This is *hopefully* going to be a quickie.
It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
So – when our constitution was written there were lots of clauses defining the rights and responsibilities of “man” and “men.” Many of our laws still reflect this pronoun preference.
At that time, in that culture/society that word was loosely defined as “white propertied male.” People back then didn’t talk so much about sexual orientation, but I think we can safely add “straight” to the list of included adjectives.
Since that time we have had to add amendments to the constitution to grant basic rights – like citizenship, the right to vote – to African-Americans, women and other minorities.
At present some supreme court justices have said that they do not believe that the 14th amendment, put in place after the civil war to grant equal rights to former slaves and free African-Americans, applies to women! Or gays. Or…
In addition, that amendment was not enough to grant African-Americans the right to vote – that came later, with the 15th amendment. Which did not extend voting rights to women, only to men of all races, regardless of “previous conditions of servitude.”
It took another 50 years for voting rights, aka full citizenship status, to be granted to women.
And still… We’re not really there yet. We are still having battles over what is a right, what is a privilege and who is a real, full citizen.
We see it in the gay rights movement right now, as well as with the renewed push to ratify the ERA – Equal Rights Amendment, which would grant women the same actual, full legal rights and protections currently granted to men in this country. We see it in the push for immigration reform. We see it in the battles for full rights to be granted to disabled and differently abled people, including the right to marry.
But… What if we simply passed an amendment stating that throughout the constitution of the United States of America, the word man would be taken to mean “person.”
Non-gendered, non-racially charged, non-sexual orientated, non-ability specific.
Would that make a difference?
If people were legally defined as equal, would it help?
What if this amendment went a step further and redefined “man” in all legislation to simply “person” and the same for “woman”?
Then on documents regarding one man and one woman – well, it would just be one person and one person.
Is changing the language enough to change minds? Can we get to a place where we are all just people, regardless of the color of our skin, the language our parents speak at home, the organs between our legs – or the legs of the person we love, the gender we identify with in our core, our mental and physical abilities…
Is there a way to get there from here?
Is there a way to include all of the people all at once instead of this piece-meal approach where every couple of decades we recognize the humanity of a new sub-group of our nation’s population? Is there a way to wave a magic wand, or pen, and simply grant the full range of inalienable human rights to every living, breathing person?
Could it be as simple as affording the same rights, privileges and responsibilities of “man” to all people?