Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK day 2010

I'm glad that we have a day like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It's a chance to celebrate the progress we've made in the US in terms of civil rights for people of color and for women.

It's also a day to reflect on the work that still remains to be done. Sexism and racism still exist. Class inequality is still here and worsening. Gay rights still need to be won.

Today, I am traveling home from Charleston, SC. Husband and I took his mother there as a winter treat since we didn't go to see her in Wisconsin this winter.

On the plane, I like to read magazines, generally Entertainment Tonight and a news magazine. This trip, it was the New Yorker, which we subscribe to, and I picked up Newsweek. The cover story was The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage.

Both magazines had big articles about Perry v. Schwartznegger, about the case to overturn Proposition 8 which banned gay marriage in California.

This issue is very important to me. I am in an interracial marriage and it took Loving v. Virginia in 1967 to overturn laws in the US that banned interracial marriage. Otherwise, Husband and I could not be married in the US.

I am very, very happy being married to Husband and it breaks my heart to think that other consenting adults aren't able to be married too because they are gay. Race can't be changed, and neither can sexual orientation.

This is a fundamental human rights issue: that the rights of an entire category of people are being denied because of an aspect of themselves that they cannot change.

This is not a religious issue, since marriage is a legal status, not really a religious status. People have to be married by a judge or other person recognized by the state. And then the benefits and rights of being married are conferred on me.

If Husband was ever hospitalized, I as his legally recognized wife, have the right to make decisions about his health care. Heck, even to see him. However a gay or lesbian couple wouldn't be able to do that, despite years of emotional and economic partnership.

How unfair is that?

Okay, I'd say I'll get off my soap box, but hey, if I'm not allowed to get on my soap box on MLK Day, when can I?

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