Being an American is supposed to guarantee the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But these days it seems that love does not fall under the category of happiness. At least President George W. Bush does not seem to think so.
I was watching The Laramie Project the other day, a movie about the murder of Matthew Sheppard in the rural town of Laramie, Wyo. Sheppard supposedly hit on two guys, who then brutally beat him and left him tied to a fence. He died because of those injuries. A character in the movie even suggested that it was partially his fault for flirting with them.
My anger at this ignorance surprised me. Whether the character was real or not, I’m sure there are people in this country that would have agreed with his statement or perhaps even took pleasure in Sheppard’s death. This movie was probably not playing just out of coincidence.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court recently voted to give same-sex couples the right to marry. Later, the state struck down a proposed amendment banning gay marriages, but allowing civil unions. In his State of the Union address last month, Bush said he planned to endorse an amendment to the Constitution that would outlaw gay marriage. Can you imagine an amendment to our Constitution that says more or less that we don’t like gay people? Is such a stupid law really worthy of an amendment?
One of the running themes in The Laramie Project was to live and let live. There was still a great deal of hate in that town, and this whole country, from a group of people who are just trying to be happy. That is supposed to be one of our rights as a human being.
Instead, the government now tells us whom we can and cannot be with. What’s next? Maybe the government could create a federal dating service. No one can get together without their approval, like suspicious parents in a previous era when marriages were all arranged. Why not ban interracial marriages while we’re at it? I know plenty of people who find any kind of interracial couple offensive, though I guess at least God would be OK with it.
Some religious people might say that a same-sex couple should just accept that God does not want them to be together and move on. You might as well settle for a civil union. The way I see it, the church has very little room to wag their finger and say what is right and who is going to burn in hell. The Roman Catholic Church protected child molesters wearing the costumes of priests for years. Do as we say, not as we do.
American citizens have given up enough civil liberties already. I think people can deal with having to empty their pockets and take off their belts when visiting the Liberty Bell. Being told you cannot marry someone you love, and even going so far as to make it an amendment to the Constitution, is going a little too far.
Torin Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.