By Samantha Tyler
As Americans, we all deserve our rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. This seems obvious since it is in the Declaration of Independence, so it’s fairly surprising when American citizens are denied any or all of these rights.
It is undeniable that all Americans lead different types of lives and have varied definitions of what brings us happiness. Our country is a melting pot of different people. We all have different backgrounds, different interests and skills and love different people.
So why does it seem like there are constantly people and even laws interfering in one way or another with some group of Americans’ happiness? Why is it assumed that we all have the same G-d and all love a member of the opposite sex? My understanding is that laws are made in order to protect the people governed by them, in at least the best interest for the majority.
Full disclosure, I am not a political scientist, I have never studied the subject and honestly never intend to. I am, however, an American with a deep respect for the diversity that exists in our country and the potential our society has to be an amalgam of cultures and customs. In order for our country to reach its full potential, in my opinion, the suppression of differences that exist among us must stop.
Every American should embrace and learn from the unconformities that surround him or her. Instead though, racism, intolerance and inequality abide.
When Barack Obama was first elected president, I, along with millions of other Americans, smiled at the triumph. The victory I celebrated was not personal; I was not yet 18 and celebrating my vote counting toward a majority. I was instead overjoyed by the proof that at least some form of a majority of our country was able to look past the color of Obama’s skin and give him the support needed to fill a position that only white men had occupied in the past.
This evidence of indiscrimination gave me confidence to believe American citizens could be treated equally. I regarded our new president both as proof and as a promise that discrimination would no longer prevail in our government and allow an unequal distribution of citizens’ rights to Life, Liberty and Happiness.
Almost a full four years later, President Obama has once again provided me with ample reason to have confidence that equality is attainable in our country. Last Wednesday he became the first president to publically support same-sex marriage. LGBTQ Americans are now that much closer to being able to enjoy their right to pursue Happiness without the constraint of a law.
I understand fully well that things have not and will not change overnight. The law that was passed in North Carolina last Tuesday has not been repealed by Obama’s mere words. Just like there are Americans who dislike our president based on the color of his skin, there are clearly citizens and lawmakers that condemn gay men and women based on their different definition of marriage.
Like I already mentioned, though, I am under the impression that laws are intended to protect. What risk is associated with same-sex marriages? Who is negatively affected at all besides the people whose rights it denies? If the argument is made that the laws of G-d prohibit it, perhaps I should take a political science class because the last I learned, there existed a separation of church and state in the United States.
Obama’s long-awaited acknowledgement that “gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally” is at the very least a step in the right direction.