Editorial: Gay rights are a matter of equality, civil rights

During the 2004 election, one issue seemed to plague Americans more than any other issue faced by George W. Bush and John Kerry. Bigger than the Iraq War and more sensational than immigration, gay marriage became one of the nation’s most polarizing issues. Liberals raised questions of civil rights and equality, while conservatives questioned the sanctity of marriage, drawing from Scriptures and applying religious text to modern society. The battle lines were drawn.

The political parties found themselves catering to specific audiences, destroying the unity brought about just three years earlier, once again pitting Americans against Americans based on political and religious ideals.

And for a while, the issue seemed to die down.

After Bush was re-elected to a second term, the voices seemed to hush themselves, giving way to other issues to take the spotlight and capture the attention of the American public.

And as the years went on, the public began to dislike Bush more and more, giving way to a more widespread liberal sentiment. The sentiment culminated when Barack Obama began his campaign of “change,” promising a radically different administration than had been in office for eight years.

It was seen as an opportunity for the liberal community to rise up and take charge. And it happened; Obama was elected and gay marriage was once again brought to the nation’s attention. Now, we stand in the same place we did five years ago, facing the same issue and hearing the same arguments for or against the right for homosexuals to marry and have the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Until now, Central Illinois has merely watched as states become increasingly supportive of same-sex couples.

In the last week, both Iowa and Vermont legalized gay marriage; a huge victory for civil rights.

But tomorrow, the Charleston community will face the issue up front as members of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgendered community demand the rights guaranteed to other couples. As Charleston residents turn in their tax forms to the post office, protesters will demand the rights given to heterosexual couples on tax forms and will “inform the public of the discrimination that LGBT individuals and couples continue to face,” according to a press release from the Coles County Minority Affairs Coalition.

This isn’t an issue of religion, and it certainly isn’t about liberals trying to brainwash your kids. This is about people being treated equally under the law. It’s about people who love each other being granted the same rights as others, regardless of sexual orientation. It’s about breaking down the walls of discrimination that bar a specific group of people from truly experiencing the freedom that is guaranteed to them by the Constitution.

Leave your prejudices aside and start treating the LGBT community not just as people, but as equals.

The editorial is the majority opinion of The DEN editorial board. Reach the opinions editor at: [email protected].