Promising Progress for Gay Rights

By Olivia Kittel
Elm Staff Writer

Many liberals, including myself, have recently been expressing much frustration with the actions of Republicans in congress. In the battle between right and left, it can be easy to focus on the negative aspects of the current deeds of the government.

The purpose of this article is to remind us not to lose sight of some of the positive progress our government has made.

The positive progress I am referring to is the advancement of gay rights. In late December, the highly discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Act was repealed. This is a big step for gays and lesbians and also just the beginning. The Obama Administration has presently announced that they will no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.

President Bill Clinton singed the Defense of Marriage Act into law in 1996. This purpose of this act was to define
marriage, for federal purposes, as “the legal union between one man and one woman.”

The act deems that the definition nd regulation of marriage is a state’s right. In addition, the act prevents the recognition of same sex marriage at the national level, allows states to reject same sex marriages performed in other states, and denies the federal benefits received in traditional marriage to same-sex couples.

It is so important that this prejudiced act be repealed in order to allow same-sex couples to receive the many benefits heterosexual couples automatically receive from traditional marriage. Legal recognition of same-sex marriage would allow these couples to file jointly for tax purposes, allow alien spouses of US citizens to gain citizenship, more easily conceive, adopt, and care for children, and many other legal and economic benefits.

Many who support the Defense of Marriage Act contend that repealing the act should remain a state right, as the Constitution leaves many issues explicitly to states. However, leaving this issue up to the states creates many complications in marriage recognition at the national-level as well as leaving same-sex couples vulnerable and creating unnecessary difficulties.

They also state that while they can tolerate civil unions, a license to marry implies societal approval.

But many just don’t want to approve of same-sex relationships.

This is absurd. Most people don’t approve of creepy old men marrying women half their age, but no one can legally stop them.

Homosexuals are going to have relationships regardless of anyone’s approval. This is not about societal approval of homosexual relationships.

It is about their equal right to receive the legal and economic benefits that come with marriage as well as equal rights and protection by the government.

While the act has not yet been officially repealed, Obama’s statement that it is unconstitutional is an extremely meaningful step in the right direction. This announcement means that sexual orientation deserves (and will hopefully receive) federal legal protection just like the kind minorities and women receive.

President Obama campaigned on his desire for equal rights for gays and lesbians and hopefully this recent progress is just the beginning.

Optimistically, these few steps will have a ripple effect into other issues such as employment discrimination and eventually lead to complete equality.

March 4, 2011
Volume LXXXI Issue 17

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