Spain surprised the world by legalizing equal marriage rights last week. Bravo Spain! This predominantly Catholic country has enthusiastically taken the lead among western nations on issues of human rights.
That same week, the Canadian House of Commons approved legalization of marriages for same-sex couples, paving the way for final approval later by the Canadian Senate to allow same-sex couples to marry throughout the entirety of Canada.
“We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality,” said Spain’s Prime Minister Juan Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as he signed the landmark legislation.
Zapatero speaks for fair-minded people throughout the world who believe in freedom and equality. Even people who disapprove of equal marriage should be able to understand the insatiable desire for freedom.
President Bush and his neo-con pals give lip service to “freedom and democracy,” and are willing to let thousands of people die – American and Arab – on behalf of their impassioned rhetoric. Yet they remain unable to see the simple truth that unless everyone has the personal freedom to follow their dreams, no one is truly free.
It is easy to let people be just like you – there is no challenge in that. Americans must understand more fully that freedom is hard – it means letting people be different from you, even if you strongly disapprove. It takes courage to let others be free, and Spain and Canada have shown that political courage is thriving in their countries.
Sandra Day O’Connor leaves a chasm in the middle
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement last week from the U.S. Supreme Court, leaving the court polarized and without its moderate swing voter. In her 24-year tenure she played a pivotal role, often casting the deciding vote in 5-4 opinions on the hot social issues of the day such as abortion, affirmative action, LGBT rights and assisted suicide.
For the LGBT community, her retirement creates a space that will probably be filled by a staunchly conservative nominee who will then decide cases with far-reaching implications in our daily lives. In won’t take long for us to see the impact of the new judge. For example, in the next session to start Oct. 3, the court will hear Rumsfeld v. FAIR (NO. 04-1152) in which the question is whether some law schools may curb military recruiters’ access to their students in protest of the U.S. armed forces “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Equal marriage rights, parental rights for LGBT people, employment non-discrimination policies, immigration laws and a myriad of other issues could come before the court in the next decade.
At a time when other nations are moving to expand the rights of their citizens, especially in Canada and Spain, it is disheartening that we must fight so hard to secure our freedoms here in America. Even though it is tough, we must rise to the occasion and speak out. Even if President Bush is successful in appointing a neo-con justice, we cannot afford to go along with it silently.
Bush will probably announce his choice for the court this week. It will then be up to all of us to let our U.S. Senators, Levin and Stabenow, know that their vote in the confirmation process will impact our lives directly for decades to come. Email Sen. Carl Levin by visiting the Contact Center on his website at http://www.senate.gov/~levin . E-mail Sen. Debbie Stabenow firstname.lastname@example.org.