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America’s Big Step Toward An Equal Society

America’s Big Step Toward An Equal Society

America has taken another step forward in its reckoning with its own discomfort with equality. President Barack Obama blatantly spoke out in support of same-sex marriage. To many, this is a non-issue. To some, this is a huge issue. To others, this is a divisive issue.

Amazingly, Obama is the first sitting president to speak out in favour of same-sex marriage rights. While Bill Clinton attempted to dance around it, he never landed on a definitive declaration while in office. Being a sitting president in the United States clearly comes with a lot of baggage and restrictions when it comes to speaking freely—how ironic.

As a gay Canadian, this is at once a momentous moment and an anti-climactic one. Canada dealt with this issue years ago and did it with far less emotion and drama as is being experienced in America. Although not done quietly, Canada passed marriage equality province-by-province until it was made a sweeping federal issue.

It also sends a message that intolerance will not be tolerated from the highest level.

The significance of Obama supporting same-sex marriage is not just about marriage. Yes, it sends a great message and vindicates and emboldens queer Americans—and their heterosexual allies—it also sends a message that intolerance will not be tolerated from the highest level.

Obama’s seemingly simple declaration changes the discourse over the issue. It tells people that bigotry and discrimination toward a segment of society is, once again, not acceptable. It says that you may feel one way about the issue, but your feelings will not be codified. Ok, that’s putting the cart before the horse (see North Carolina). However, it is a major step in the right direction.

You don’t tell me whom I can love. I don’t tell you whom you can worship. Case closed.

The bottom line is that whether you are gay, straight, bi, trans, queer—no matter how you identify and live your life—it is your right and freedom to live as you please, without the interference and slings and arrows of those who may not agree with your life.

Obama’s statement is a big step forward for equality and human rights in the homeland. It validates Hillary Clinton’s stirring UN address about gay rights and human rights on a domestic and global level. It helps move us all forward as human beings who may not understand each other, but can offer the respect to let each other live in peace.

There are a lot of queer people who disagree with our foes, but we let them live in peace. The very least we ask for is the same courtesy. Acceptance is the ideal; but when dealing with fundamentalists and zealots, I’ll settle for quiet tolerance. You don’t tell me whom I can love. I don’t tell you whom you can worship. Case closed.

photo credit: afagen


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