A Repeat in History
Gays in the military j. “Dont ASk, Dont Tell” k. women In the military l. Westboro Baptist Church . Gay males donating blood n. Stereotypes throughout the years o. Similarities among women, African Americans, and gays and lesbians Ill. a. Similarities between history and current events b. Repeat in history not only in struggle but also in the outcomes Not so long ago African Americans were fighting for the right to receive a good education, the right to attend the same churches as others, the right to vote, and the right to be free.
Before that, women fought for their equality, their independence, and their place in society among men. Today, none can deny that the perseverance, resilience, and etermination portrayed by these two groups were for naught nor can it be denied that these changes in history were an important part of America’s history. Through the liberation and independence of both African Americans and women, America proved to her citizens that all would receive the equality promised since the beginning of our nation.
It is against the essence of the Declaration of Independence to take the basic human rights away from citizens, for it is also promised that America will acknowledge that all are born free with natural and undeniable rights. Looking back, many are ashamed of the outright discrimination and oppression owards those who used to be known as an inferior and inhuman race. This picture is seen as a disgraceful part in history. Figure 1 At the time this picture was taken, mixing races was seen as a legitimate threat to American society.
Today, integrations is not only accepted but is also considered natural. Although racism and discrimination still exists, both African Americans and women have gained independence and freedom legally in the United States. Today, there is still a group of people who are considered inferior and inhuman. The gay and lesbian community has seen discrimination very much like women and African Americans. They are seen by some as a mistake in the human race and are treated as such with hate and intolerance. In addition, they are denied the basic human rights that were promised in America’s constitution.
Gays and lesbians are prohibited from marrying and adopting children in many states and are also banned from openly Joining the army or donating blood. These fundamental rights are supposed to be open to all American citizens yet are discriminating against the gay and lesbian population. Although America has overcome its dishonorable segregation and discrimination of fellow human beings nearly 50 years ago, America as been repeating history with a new group of human beings. What is the difference between this picture and the last?
The first, America has apologized for. The second is still considered legitimate. Figure 2 Human rights are defined by the expected and fundamental rights and privileges given to all humans simply because they are human (Human Rights). This protects people from things such as enslavement, rape, genocide, child labor and the like but also entitles the same people to live, to have a fair trial, to reproduce, to respect for a private life, to be free of discrimination, and also the right to indentify with any exual orientation.
In America, these rights are acknowledged and promised in the Constitution, guaranteeing the natural rights of all citizens. However, these rights women and then African Americans, who later in time gained their rights to access these already promised rights. Yet still gays and lesbians experience discrimination from the country in which they live, the same country that promised them the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The ban on gay marriage is still a pressing current event in California.
Proposition 8, which bans same sex marriage, has been in ffect since the states in November of 2008, only six months after preventing gay marriages was deemed unconstitutional Oost, Gay Marriage). Still, there is much controversy over a possible appeal of the proposition. Supporters of the ban claim that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman and therefore should not be allowed for a man and another man or a woman and another women. They also claim that if gay and lesbian couples were allowed to marry, it would decline the value of the institution of marriage.
While neither claim seems to be substantial enough to prohibit marriage entirely, still it is enough in the minds of those in upport of Proposition 8 and those who allowed the ban to continue. Supporters of the appeal argue that marital rights should not discriminate against same-sex couples and that these couples are entitled to receive the same benefits of any other couple in love. It is widely agreed that marriage is a highly regarded union between two people however it should not be available to only heterosexual couples and discriminate against homosexual couples (Mollmann).
There was once a time when whites were forbidden from marrying people of color because African Americans were seen as a lesser people and were treated as such. This horrifying discrimination against a certain type of love is looked back on as disturbing yet is still occurring today with gays and lesbians. Why shouldn’t two people in love be allowed to marry and receive the same benefits as any other couple? Although some characterize marriage as solely between a man and woman, this idea should not be the most important value of a marriage, for it does not represent a male and female who cohabitate and reproduce.
Marriage represents two people, despite their orientation, who are in love and who are willing to uphold the promises made in their vows. There are numerous heterosexual couples who marry for the wrong reasons, such as money, convenience, or an unexpected pregnancy, and are allowed to by the state. That is not to say a homosexual couple will never marry for the wrong reason, but if they are willing to fight for their right to be together, their intentions might be much more honorable and reflect the married image in a more positive manner.
The supporters of the Proposition 8 also claim that marriage entitles sexual activity. Fundamentally, sex is simply for reproduction and since a gay or lesbian couple annot reproduce, their marriage, sexual activity, and relationship are seen as unnatural. However, in the early 1960’s birth control was introduced (Bronski 207). The purpose of birth control was to be able to engage in sexual activity for pleasure, without the worry of an unplanned pregnancy. This has lead to a socially acceptable divide between sex and reproduction.
Procreation is no longer the main purpose for sex. Therefore, homosexual activity can no longer be considered unnatural since there are many heterosexual couples who engage in sexual activity for the sole purpose of pleasure and not to reproduce. Those opposing gay marriage also argue that as a country founded with a Christian background, the law must recognize that this is actually stated in the bible. Still, no matter what the bible says, in the Bill of Rights, a separation of church and state is promised.
President Thomas Jefferson once wrote that “religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God” and not from man to man. Also the First Amendment explicitly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” (U. S. Const. , am. 1). Therefore religion is not sufficient grounds for prohibiting gay marriage. No matter the reasoning for why gay marriage should continue to be banned, it still violates the basic human rights of homosexuals and is unconstitutional. Homosexual couples are also discriminated against when adopting children.
Although Florida is the only state the bans gays from adopting, sexual orientation is still a considered factor when adoption agencies decide to allow a couple to adopt (A Stand Against Hypocrisy). Another considered factor is whether the potential parents are married. However, as afore stated, gay marriage is banned in many states, thus limiting the ability for gay couples to adopt. Social Security benefits for a family are also limited because of a homosexual’s lack of a marital status (Gay Parents).
The argument is that in order to raise a well-developed child, both a father and mother are needed, and not two fathers or two mothers. There is no evidence that proves a child with homosexual parents will become more dysfunctional than a child with heterosexual parents. In concurrence, it seems to be better to allow two same-sex parents who are willing to raise a child without a family in a home where food, support, and one-on-one care are provided rather than to allow the child to continue to live in a poorly provided rphanage.
If a gay or lesbian couple is able to adopt, still there are many limitations. Since in most instances they are unable to marry, only one parent is granted legal custody of the child, leaving the other parent without any legal rights over the child. This means that he or she is unable to enroll the child in school or make any other educational decisions, make treatment decisions or even visit the child if he or she is in a hospital, or obtain medical, dental, or any other health coverage offered by employers for the child (Gay Parents).
These limitations hinder a gay or lesbian ousehold from receiving proper recognition as a family simply because the discrimination deems them as non-traditional family. What seems to be most interesting is that a child can be raised by a single mother or father without any contact with the other biological parent or a replacement parent and can still grow up to be as functional as any other child. Yet many believe that if raised by two parents of the same sex, the child will grow up to be dysfunctional.
Furthermore, a child can be raised by heterosexual parents who may be emotionally abusive, neglectful, or simply unprepared. Much like marriages, these are not characteristics seen in only heterosexual parents but can also be present in homosexual parents as well. However, it is much more likely that a couple who is willing to go through extensive background checks, interviews, and other decision-making processes will prove to be healthier and much more stable parents than the heterosexual couple who gave the child up for one reason or another in the first place.
Still the argument remains that a child with two mothers or with two fathers will be negatively impacted in the long run. But there is no research to prove that this is so. In contrast, much research finds that a child adopted by a gay or lesbian couple is no less likely to be a child more likely to become homosexual if his or her parents are homosexual (Gay Parents). The only negative impacts a child will endure with same-sex parents are the results of prejudice.
The child is sure to receive some type of hate or discrimination in his or life simply because his or her parents are homosexual. The lack of benefits and recognition because his or her parents are unable to marry also hinders the child. These, and not opposing myths, are the only detrimental barriers for a child in same-sex family and consequently affect the child negatively (Gay Parents). Gays and lesbians are not only limited in familial matters but are also prevented from serving in the armed forces while being open with their sexual orientation.
Through most of the 1900’s, gays were explicitly banned from Joining the army; homosexuality was considered a disqualifying factor and if a person was discovered to be homosexual, they were immediately discharged with very few veteran benefits that others received (Gays in the Military But when President Bill Clinton was elected resident, he created the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (Gays in the Military). This was created in order to make a compromise between those who firmly believed gays should be allowed to serve and those who did not by allowing them to Join the armed forces but disallowing them from disclosing their sexual orientation.
While it seemed to be a big step towards the direction of tolerance, it is still seemed discriminatory that gays must be secretive and hide the truth about their orientation. The truth of the matter is, no matter if gays are allowed to disclose this personal information or ot, there is still an immense anti-gay sentiment throughout all branches of the armed forces. Even though there is no sufficient study to prove that a military unit with gay soldiers will be more vulnerable and less effective, the presence of gays is enough to distract intolerant soldiers.
There have been many reports of hostile actions towards gays by those who are extremely intolerant, including threats and physical and verbal harassment. Naval Petty Officer Third Class Allen R. Schindler, Jr. was beaten to death by two other soldiers for his sexual orientation in 1992 before he ould finish the process of being discharged after first receiving the harassment (Gays in the Military). These life-threatening situations are the reasons for the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Even if it may seem discriminatory, it is for the benefit and well being of gays who are vulnerable to this kind of action. However, in an ideal world, there should be no need for this policy. The constant harassment and threats also violate the basic human rights of gays and obviously puts them in life threatening situations. Women have also faced much discrimination in the military and were anned from enlisting until the latter part of the 1900’s. Today there are more women serving in the armed forces than ever in history (Clemmitt).
However, in earlier times, women had to cross dress as men in order to serve alongside them. Looking back, it seems ridiculous the lengths women would go in order to Join the military because today, women have access to nearly all service related Jobs, with an exception to ground combat units (Clemmitt). Now the question is, why do gays still have to conceal an important part of their identity in order to serve alongside heterosexual soldiers? It is undeniable that it is partly for their safety, as when women would pretend to be men not only to be able to enlist but also to prevent harassment.
Still, a concern for safety should not have to be an issue, especially in an tolerance of gays in the military has significantly increased over the years, there is still much discrimination within the branches of the armed forces. The Westboro Baptist Church is a more radical form of discrimination that most can agree is appalling. This group of people is known for protesting at military funerals, saying that God is punishing the army for its tolerance of homosexuality (Free Speech). They congregate near burial sites with signs saying things such as “God hates the USA” and “God hates fags. The First Amendment protects the church’s right to protest and speak publically but still causes much distress for the family and friends attending the funeral. The outright pain the group inflicts on them is horrendous yet it still comes down to whether or not their freedom of speech can be taken away. Although the Westboro Baptist Church represents only a small percentage of the discrimination of gays in the military, they are still part of a larger group of people aking away the natural rights of the gays and lesbians who serve our country.
There is also discrimination specifically against gay males who would like to donate blood. The reasoning is that if a male has had sex with another male, they are automatically denied from being able to donate simply because there is a possibility the he is HIV positive (Waters). It is discriminatory to assume that all gay males who have had sex with another male contracted HIV, even if he is monogamous and practices safe sex every time. Non-gay males who partake in risky and promiscuous sex are still allowed o donate their blood after 12 months of abstaining from this behavior, but a gay male is banned for life.
Essentially, the ban says “A man who has had sex with a prostitute every day of his adult life can walk into a clinic and say he stopped 12 months ago and would be able to give blood. But if you are a man who got together with your male partner at 18 and has never participated in risky sexual behaviour, you are banned for life” (Waters). There is a shortage of blood supplies yet gay males are prohibited from donating blood even though their blood could be tested for diseases Just like every other donor.
This blanket ban is nonsensical now that there is sufficient technology to screen the blood that is donated. However, this ban assumes all gay males are HIV positive, prohibiting any gay male from even being tested. Today, it seems absurd to assume all African Americans are illiterate and have once belonged to a white family simply because one cannot attribute a characteristic to an entire group of people. This is called a stereotype. However, today it is still allowed to stereotype gays and assume that all have risky, unprotected sex and are HIV positive.
There seems to be no difference in the ways these two groups are discriminated gainst, yet one is a error for which America has apologized and the other is still an ongoing issue, blind to the mistakes made in the past. There are many similar ties between the gay and lesbian community fighting for their rights and the communities of women and African Americans in the previous centuries fighting for theirs. Yet there are still many who are unable to see the parallels.
America has come to accept the rights and freedom granted to women who are now able to work among men, serve alongside them in the military, and to run for office and to African Americans who are undeniably considered free citizens who can marry whomever hey wish and even become president. The younger generations consider these rights with which all Americans are born; they see it as a social norm that they will rights. Today, the gays and lesbians in America are still in the process of gaining their rights and privileges that should already be expected.
Their struggle is not yet old enough to be recognized as another turn in American history (Harwood). They are still considered a lesser group of people who do not deserve the same basic rights as other citizens. What is the difference between the discrimination against in African Americans in the 1960’s and the discrimination against gays and lesbians today? Why were women once considered second-class citizens but now have as many rights as a man but still homosexual couples have yet to gain the rights to which heterosexual couples are entitled?
There simply is no answer, for a majority of American citizens have yet to realize history being repeated. Sometime in the future, same-sex couples will be allowed to marry and adopt a child, a lesbian woman will be able to serve in the army openly about her sexual orientation without the fear of harassment, and a gay male will be able to save a life by donating his blood. When that time comes, America will look back at the appalling images of protesters deeming all gays and lesbians inhuman. It will look very much like the images of white citizens protesting against integration.
Very much like women and African Americans, gays and lesbians are considered inferior but will endure the struggle to obtain the rights granted to them by the constitution as human beings.