RANKIN: Fulfilling America’s promise on equality

Why marriage equality matters to all of us Photo: Au Kirk

SANTA CRUZ, July 9, 2013 – It is truly a momentous time to be an American. For all the world’s troubles, inherent calamities and forsaken promise, America endures and so do its citizens; weary from one crisis after another, daring to hope that a brighter day lies just ahead. 

People often speak of being on the wrong side of history. Consider those who opposed desegregation or sided with senator Joe McCarthy, turning their friends and colleagues over to the house un-American activities committee (HUAC). 

It is likely that those who currently embrace bigotry and hatred will find themselves on the wrong side of history when it is remembered generations from now. 

Americans of every shape, size and color have a common expectation of freedom. It is a delicate chain, a binding moral compass which governs a diverse populace through a unifying standard.

When one person or group is oppressed, is denied opportunities, there can only be discord and social unrest.

American students were once compelled to begin each day with the pledge of allegiance. Within that pledge is a promise of liberty and justice for all. America’s declaration of independence also promises that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the unalienable rights of every American. 

For same-sex couples who want to marry, these promises of life, liberty and the persuit of happiness have been muddied. Simple rights which other married couples take for granted have been out of reach for millions of Americans. 

The recent supreme court decisions on the defense of marriage act (DOMA) and proposition 8 have turned the tide for same-sex couples and for the millions of straight Americans who support equality. That it has taken this long to reach this realization of America’s promised liberty for so many people ought to be a source of national consternation.

Hatred and intolerance have had their day. Acceptance and love will always win. Some predict that a national referendum on same-sex marriage is now on the horizon and there is hope that who people decide to marry will one day become a non-issue, just as it is for male and female couples today. 

America would do well to remain vigilant regarding the precious separation of church and state suggested by Thomas Jefferson. There are those who fear a secular government but this trepidation is groundless. The same liberties and freedom same-sex couples have fought for are afforded those who choose to marry someone of the opposite sex or to practice a chosen religion. Nobody gets to be absolutely right. 

Religious people may not agree with the idea of same-sex marriage. That is fine, they are free to marry whoever they wish but when elected representatives start tossing their religious morality around as a substitute for law it threatens everyone.

Agree or disagree, Americans ought to be governed by the same laws, regardless of who they choose to marry. Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are the rights of everyone, not just those who a few deem worthy.

Nobody wants to be on the wrong side of history. No matter what someone’s religion might say, the freedom for adults to marry who they choose is a matter of personal liberty. It is not the state’s concern, nor is it a matter for self-righteous zealots to decide. 

There are many battles ahead but, for those who have fought so hard and waited patiently, the recent supreme court decisions herald a better world and a more just society.

As Victor Hugo once wrote, “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” For America’s same-sex couples and those who support them, that time might be now.


Russ Rankin writes about hockey, music & politics. You can find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He also sings for Good Riddance and Only Crime. Find out what he’s up to by checking out his website.

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Russ Rankin

Santa Cruz, California native Russ Rankin is the vocalist for the seminal California punk band Good Riddance, the hard rock band Only Crime as well as currently performing original songs as a solo artist. Rankin is a dedicated vegan, an avid animal rights advocate, a political activist and has been a regular columnist for AMP Magazine and New Noise Magazine as well as contributing to various magazines such as Alternative Press, Razorcake and others. 

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