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The United States: discrimi-nation

o start off my first blog post here, I’ll introduce myself. My name is Emma Connell, and I’m a junior majoring in political science and philosophy. I’ve been interested in politics and government since I can remember, and I grew up in a very strongly Democratic household. I continue to share the same values that I grew up with—focusing on helping those less fortunate as much as is reasonably possible, the belief that government was established by and for the people and should be allowed to intervene so as to help the population as a whole, and a strong belief in equality of peoples. I’m extremely interested in government as a way to affect positive change. I’m personally more interested in social issues than economic ones, and I’m more comfortable talking about social issues, so I’ll likely be focusing on that in this blog.

Discrimination involves treating a person differently, either in favor or against the person, based on the group, class, or category to which that person belongs. The United States has a thorough history of discrimination, both in its legal system and within the population. Whether it was the Native Americans, Irish, Chinese, women, or Black population, the great melting pot of America has always had some ostracized ingredients. Today, the homosexual population of America is often persecuted through individual threats, hateful comments, and exclusion—these constitute discrimination. When state governments limit access to marriage to only couples that are comprised of a man and a woman, they discriminate against the homosexual population by not giving these committed relationships the same benefits as heterosexual relationships. Marriage opens up hundreds of protections at the state level and over a thousand protections at the national level, including things like hospital visitation, tax credits, and so on. To make a solid argument why the population and the government should not keep homosexual partnerships from having these same protections, that argument must be based in logic. Each voter has the obligation to construct a logical argument for whether or not homosexual marriage should be allowed.

Some argue that homosexuality is morally wrong and a choice made by the homosexual individual. If the American legal system is built to prevent immoral action, it seems logical to decide that our government may create laws to prevent homosexual marriage, since homosexual marriage is deemed as an immoral act by many people in the United States population. It is for these reasons that almost half of the population does not believe that gay marriages should be recognized by law as valid with the same rights as traditional marriages. People oftentimes view our legal system as being based on morality. For example, the assumption tends to be that statutory rape is illegal because it is immoral. Because our legal system is based on morality, it is within the power of our members of Congress to pass laws that are morally based. But where does this morality come from? Nietzsche and other moral relativists argue that morality is created by the world around us. Those in power have the ability to say what is right and what is wrong, which people will follow, and it will eventually become ingrained in the minds of the population that these things are Right and Wrong. If Nietzsche is right, then creating law based on morality will only reinforce any misguided laws of morality by making them socially acceptable. One could argue that the Jim Crow laws of the South are an example of how laws based on “morality” can reinforce discrimination and heinous acts towards our fellow humans. Slaves were almost if not completely inhuman to their owners, leading the owners to commit acts of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse against their slaves. In today’s day in age, we understand this to be immoral. But if one lived in the South in 1780, odds are that he or she would not find this abuse immoral. Human beings’ understandings of what constitutes immoral action are prone to error. When discriminating against homosexuals, one should consider the discrimination of other peoples.

Furthermore, to not allow a gay couple to marry because of religious beliefs goes against the tenets of the United States Constitution. The First Amendment says that “Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion.” By this clause, the United States government is in no place to create laws about who can marry based on The Bible, as to doing so would respect religions that assert the Bible as the word of God. Secondly, to assert that people must change their actions based on one specific religion is detrimental to society. If Christians in Congress are allowed to make laws that homosexuals cannot marry, then Orthodox Jews in Congress should be allowed to make laws that no one can eat non-Kosher foods, and Muslims in Congress to make laws that everyone observe Ramadan. While the majority of our Country is Christian, our laws must protect religious minorities. The United States Constitution contains protections for minorities; these are being ignored if the legal system passes very clearly Christian-themed laws.

If homosexuality is not a choice, but is something that people are born with,then discrimination against the gay population is on the same level as racism and sexism. People generally view discrimination against those who have chosen who they are as more acceptable—if a person has made a poor decision, then one of the ramifications of that is social punishment. However, if people are born with a trait, then they had no choice in the matter and should therefore not be held accountable for that trait. Even if one views homosexuality as being morally wrong, if he or she believes it to be a trait people are born with, he or she should not discriminate, as that discrimination is equal to discrimination based on sex, disability, national origin, and race.

The Minnesota marriage amendment that will be voted on this November would legally define marriage as between a man and a woman in the Minnesota state constitution. The voters of Minnesota have a responsibility to analyze their beliefs about homosexuality and gay marriage before voting. When a person truly understands their beliefs about this issue, that individual’s vote is a vote well cast. Vote this November for what you believe is Right.

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