Gays deserving of equal rights

By Amanda Dennis

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One thing I will never understand about Americans today is their need to push their beliefs onto others, especially when they are completely unconnected to or affected by the people they are oppressing. Take, for example, gay marriage: why do people care so much about whether gay couples can get married? Gay people are the same as everyone else, so what is the problem, and why is it any one else’s right to tell them whom they should love? And why do they get to determine what is acceptable?

Massachusetts did not legalize Gay Marriage until 2004, and is still only one of six states that allow it. Additionally, gays still do not receive the benefits that other married couples do. They are still deprived of over 1,000 benefits that heterosexual couples currently receive. So yes, gay people can get married in Massachusetts, but they are deprived of plenty of benefits like bereavement leave, automatic inheritance, child custody, or divorce protections to name a few.

By saying that gay people are not allowed to get married and receive the same benefits that straight people do, the government is saying that gay people are not equal to heterosexuals, and it is supporting the claim that marriage should be restricted to being between a man and a woman. This is pure discrimination, and it should not be acceptable in today’s society. In addition, many states do not protect gay people against employers from firing or failing to hire them on the basis of their sexuality.

Just a few months ago, some states wouldn’t even support their homosexual citizens in their desire to be soldiers fighting for their country if they identified as being gay, and some still believe this is a valid deterrent. How can people who claim to be a part of one of the strongest and most progressive nations on earth think in such a backwards manner?

It is a constitutional right for citizens to be treated as equals under the law, so how have these prejudiced people gotten away with their discrimination for so long? You would think that Americans would learn from their own history that prejudice just leads to violence, hatred, and a miserable existence. Yet 17 percent of hate crime incidents are based on sexual orientation. This is huge. Why does it seem people always have to discriminate against some group, and what are these prejudiced people afraid of?

Gay people are not trying to turn all straight people gay. There’s no secret plot – they just want to be themselves. Straight and gay people have existed since the dawn of the human race and there is nothing to say that being gay is unnatural. In previous human societies homosexuality was even accepted. For example, gay couples existed in many Native American societies. This demonstrates that any issues in regards to gay rights are bread from the society we live in today and do not have anything to do with it being “unnatural.” The New York Times article “Can Animals be Gay” explains that “various forms of same-sex sexual activity [has] been recorded in more than 450 different species of animals.” All throughout nature there is proof of same-sex couples, proving that homosexuality occurs in nature and is therefore natural.

Even though homosexuality is proven natural many people still exhibit bigotry towards gay people. This is something our society needs to work against. People who are prejudice against gays have to first recognize their prejudice and then work towards changing it. It is a long and slow process for many, but in the end it is the right thing to do.

Gay individuals and couples deserve equality under the laws; they deserve to be treated just as every straight person is treated. Gay people should be allowed to get married and receive equal benefits, they are just as important and as much a part of today’s society as any straight person. America needs to get past its prejudice and give gays the rights they deserve.

Amanda Dennis is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]