LGBT seek equal — not special — rights

by Karin Marr
Flapjack Chronicle

The United States has a long history of oppression. Those who have been oppressed also have a history of protest. In the 1920s it was Women. In the 1960s it was African-Americans.  Today it is citizens who are not heterosexual.

Next month the United States Supreme Court will hear two landmark cases to determine their constitutionality. The first is the repeal of California’s Proposition 8, the voter-initiated ballot that would prohibit gay and lesbian citizens from marrying. The second is the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law that defines marriage “as the legal union of one man and one woman for federal and inter-state recognition purposes in the United States.”

Mark Holland, 46, of Eureka, has a sister who is a lesbian and has been in her relationship for 17 years.

“The repeal of Proposition 8 was a major, crushing defeat for anti-gays, who have cooked up all sorts of excuses for why LGBT Americans should not have the same ‘Equal Protection’ all other Americans enjoy,” he said. “If heterosexuals have the right to be married and miserable, homosexuals should have the right to be married and miserable, too.”

United States v. Windsor is the DOMA case to be heard next month. Edith Windsor, 83, of New York received a $363,000 federal estate tax bill when her lesbian partner of 40 years died. Though New York recognized their marriage, the federal government did not. As a same-sex couple they were not eligible for the marital deduction that married heterosexuals are entitled to. A couple whose marriage is recognized by the federal government pays no estate tax when one or the other of the spouses dies.

Sue Buckley, of Fieldbrook, is the lead groundskeeper for HSU Housing and co-host of the QWIRE radio show on KHSU. Married in 2008, Buckley is one of the 3,600 people in California whose marriages are in limbo, not recognized by the federal government.

“There are 1,138 rights that straight couples have that I don’t,” she said. “I also pay an extra $185 ‘gay tax’ that straight couples don’t pay.” Her spousal benefits are taxed as if they are income.

So, what’s the difference between the ’60s and today?

“Circumstances are different but the civil rights issues remain the same,” Buckley said. “When the Supreme Court hears the cases next month DOMA will be repealed at the federal level.”

According to Charles Hearndon, 53, of Fontana, Calif., there is no difference.

“With homosexuals demanding the same rights that are afforded to their straight counterparts, they are demanding their rights to be equal,” he said. “Proposition 8 is unconstitutional as it denies equal rights among human beings due to their preference to marry someone of the same gender.”

Stacey Mejia is a 20-year-old political science major at College of the Redwoods.

“Prop 8 and DOMA both need to be put down,” she said. “A false and invalidated religious belief should not be setting policy or creating religious based secular laws in this country. We are not Iran.”

Women did get the right to vote in the 1920s, but still get paid an average of 23 percent less than men. African-Americans can now eat anywhere they want, but make up an overwhelming percent of the population of the prison industrial complex. Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage. Many people consider this progress.  However they say that without federal recognition, “equal rights” is still but a dream.

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