I’m going to try to keep this short and simple.
Either I am a person, and thus have the same unalienable and legal rights as other citizens of my country, or I’m not.
This is not a State’s Rights issue. This is a Human Rights issue.
As “One nation, under God” we have to decide if we really believe what our founders proclaimed when they declared independence from England and stated,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable Rights; that among these, are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness; that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…
Now, at the time that this was written – women were not people. We were property. Blacks were not people, they were property. Browns were not people, they were barbarians, savages and animals. Gays were also not people, because, you know, they didn’t exist. (Ahem.) So “Men” really meant, straight white dudes who owned property. Yes, our nation began as a plutocratic oligarchy. (A nation ruled by the rich few, for those whose Latin is a little rusty.)
But, times have changed a little since then. And “Men” now includes all men regardless of the color of their skin (at least on paper.), and in this country, it mostly includes women, in theory, though not so much on paper. (Although, we are allowed to vote, so if we all rise up together, perhaps we can change that…) And sometimes it includes gays, if they ask nicely and don’t want to get married. In fact, in many people’s minds “Men” in that context has come to simply mean “Humans”.
With these changes, slowly, but surely our Republic has inched ever closer toward Democracy.
Yet, whenever those of us who are not propertied straight white males ask for full, legal acknowledgement of our basic humanity, confirmation that we are, in fact, citizens born with the same unalienable rights and the associated full legal rights that come with them, we are told that our rights and equality are a matter for the states to determine.
Gay marriage? State’s Rights Issue.
Women’s Reproductive Rights and choices? State’s Rights Issue.
And now even skin color is becoming a State’s Rights Issue as more and more states claim the power to ID brown-skinned people without cause, or disenfranchise people with Spanish last names, or remove non-whites from voter lists.
These are not state’s issues. My liberty isn’t up for discussion, debate or deliberation. And I shouldn’t have to move to another state in order to have civil liberties and exercise my human rights (As adopted by the USA in 1948).
I know that the Equal Rights Amendment STILL hasn’t passed, granting me actual full citizenship and humanity under the law.
And I know that there are people who argue that women, gays, and browns aren’t covered by the 14th Amendment.
But again, I say – either all human beings in this country are equal – under the law, under God and in Nature, no matter what state we live in – or, our entire nation is built on a a house of cards.
I get frustrated when I see this Group Of People who would like to keep personal, individual freedom for themselves, while excluding others, as if somehow sharing freedom lessens it…
By deferring to the states, and allowing them to make legal decisions about the equality of individual citizens, they are abdicating their responsibility to uphold the fundamental American principle of “Liberty and Justice for ALL.”
I keep getting told by people who are voting for this group that it isn’t really about taking away individual liberty, it’s about money and taxes and deficits. As if somehow the rights of women, and gays, and browns, and blacks, and our children cost more to maintain than the rights of white, straight, propertied adult males. Or as if individual liberty is less important than not paying taxes.
Here’s the thing – to us “others”, it’s also about money. Because if we aren’t full people, if we don’t have the same basic human and legal rights as every other American, then… the money doesn’t matter. If we don’t have the same full say in how we live our lives, who we love, when and how we start our family and the environment that we raise them in… Then the rest is a moot point anyway.
If you want to talk to me about how paying less taxes is going to help my country succeed and move forward, go ahead. I’ll listen just as soon as we’re standing on equal legal footing.
Yesterday I cast my ballot for education, women, children, men, gays, straights, human rights, the environment, and the future, which is to say, freedom – for ALL citizens, regardless of the state they live in, the parents they were born to, or the genes they were born with.
What are you voting for this season?