Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Everyone Needs Equal Rights Now

I have an important admission to make: I’m straight and I was born male. I hope you don’t hold it against me. Then again, you probably won’t, because that’s just the way things are. Equal rights for everyone are a necessary aspect of American society. I realize that for the most part I’m preaching to the choir, but this is still important.

In September there have been five reports by major news outlets of young people committing suicide because of the treatment they’ve received at the hands of their peers. This is hardly a new phenomenon, but it has to stop. Consider the case of Tyler Clementi, an accomplished 18-year old violinist, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge in New York after his roommate at Rutgers University broadcast a gay romantic encounter of his on the Internet.

Clementi is only one of the casualties of homophobia in the past month. Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old from Tehachapi, Calif. died after hanging himself. He was the target of anti-gay bullying. So was Asher Brown, a 13-year-old from Cypress, Texas who shot himself.

Then, there’s the case of Chris Anderson, the first openly gay student body president at the University of Michigan. He’s the target of Michigan’s Assistant Attorney General, Andrew Shirvell, who started a blog entitled “Chris Armstrong Watch.” The blog contains such gems as pictures of Armstrong with words such as “Racist Elitist Liar” scrawled on his face, as well as a doctored pride flag with a Nazi swastika on it. This is the same man who is supposed to stand up in front of a judge and use his own best judgment to represent the people of Michigan.

That’s why gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people all need the same rights afforded to straight, cisgender (people who identify with the gender they are assigned at birth). When it comes down to it, LGBT folks are just like people who are “normal.” They have the same aspirations and hold the same jobs; they just love different people.

When someone says something along the lines of “I don’t have anything against gay people, I just don’t think they should get married,” what I hear is “I don’t have anything against gay people, I just don’t think they should be afforded the same rights and privileges I am.” That’s what this boils down to: because of some people’s hang-ups, there are communities of people in our society composed of individuals who aren’t allowed to love who they do. And it’s killing people.

Finally, I would like to use this column as a declaration of war. A war not waged against fellow people, but one waged against ignorance, hatred and the sorts of ideas that other people can use to justify these senseless acts. This has to stop. We have a chance at this moment in time to stand up and be counted.

Here’s a shout-out to all the lovely people who would rather see this column as greater affirmation that some higher power would justify all of this bullshit. Do you value your theology so much that you can justify this? I find myself hard-pressed to believe that a deity who preaches love and acceptance would turn his or her back on a specific group of people because of who they are.

You’re welcome to believe whatever you want, but the future of how we treat our fellow human beings in this country is at stake. I find the horrendous treatment of other normal people to be horrifying and wrong. We have to do something.

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    Ben YonasOct 7, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Well said Blair.