It’s not 1954 anymore, but bigots are still bigots, and separate but equal is still unconstitutional.
This weekend, almost 250 people turned out for Fort Collinsâ€™ 12th annual Freedom to Marry Day to vocalize their basic human desire to have the equality of rights and opportunity to legally marry the person they love â€“â€“Â same sex or not.
Colorado was once a forward thinking state. In 1893, Colorado became the second proud state in the U.S. to allow women the right to vote. In 2011, it should be embarrassed to be among the states that do not recognize legal unions between gays and should be even more ashamed to have constitutionally defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
The state could erase some of that embarrassment with a bill that was introduced to the state Senate on Valentineâ€™s Day by the openly gay Sen. Pat Steadman.
For obvious reasons, participants of the cityâ€™s Freedom to Marry Day expressed their support for the bill, which would give gay couples critical and humane rights currently denied to them: the ability make end-of-life decisions, adoption rights, hospital visitation, access to medical information, placement in the same retirement home and the ability to change names.
Northern Coloradoâ€™s representative for OneColorado called the bill a â€œstep in the right directionâ€ and Rep. John Kefalas called it a â€œhugeâ€ step for the state in a Collegian article published Monday.
A huge step in the right direction, maybe, but freedom to civil unionize isnâ€™t as catchy as freedom to marry, nor does it address the basic issue at hand.
â€œAllowingâ€ gays to enter into legally recognized unions might give gay couples some important rights, but it still leaves them as second-class citizens who arenâ€™t good enough to enjoy the benefits straight couples have â€“â€“Â exactly where bigots would like to keep the gay community, if theyâ€™re forced to give it any rights at all.
And if the bill does pass, it would set up a situation where gay couples have â€œseparate but equalâ€ rights compared to their straight counterparts.
Ask Oliver Brown if thatâ€™s a fair compromise.
The bill is expected to pass the Senate, bringing gay rights one step closer to that unconstitutional but better separate but equal status. The bill will have a harder time getting through the Republican-leaning House, though, where political divisions could abort any step toward equality. The truly righteous move of repealing the stateâ€™s dogmatic marriage-definition amendment and creating true marriage equality would be much, much harder.
But gay rights should not be a political issue for anyone who cares about their fellow human beings.
Gay rights arenâ€™t about right or left, liberal or conservative; theyâ€™re about believing that everyone has the right to seek happiness by choosing who to love and that everyone deserves to be free from legal discrimination.
But opponents of equal gay rights donâ€™t believe those things.
Some opponents like to take the Rick Santorum road, comparing gay relationships to pedophilia or bestiality. How legally recognizing the love of two consenting adults is equivalent to child molestation or animal sex is beyond the grasp of any sane, half-decent human being.
More opponents claim that allowing gays to marry somehow degrades the sanctity of their own union. Anyone so insecure in their own marriage to be bothered by the idea that two loving adults have access to equal marriage rights has much bigger problems than betrothing gays.
The arguments against allowing two people to seek legally recognized happiness are simply so weak there must be something deeper and more insidious at work.
Looking back at 1954, itâ€™s hard to figure out what about allowing blacks integrated, equal access to education so terrified the Board of Education of Topeka.
The only reason was backward, racist bigotry.
Looking back at 2011, it will be hard to figure out what about allowing gays integrated, equal access to marriage rights so terrified Coloradans.
The only reason will be backward, homophobic bigotry.
Managing Editor Jim Sojourner is a senior journalism major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.