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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    In Order to Construct a More Perfect Union…

    Three years ago, I interned for Senator Charles Schumer inWashington DC. One day, I was in the Senate chamber watching adebate while a father and son sat a few seats away from me in thevisitor’s gallery. Upon sitting down, the boy looked aroundthe hallowed room and asked his Dad if they were allowed to bethere. His Dad looked at him and responded quietly: ‘Son,it’s your right as an American to be here.’

    Watching President Bush endorse a Constitutional amendmentbanning gay marriages, I remembered that incident. I’vealways believed in what that man told his son: that every Americanhas ‘a right to be here,’ to experience every libertyand enjoy every protection America affords us. I’ve alwaysthought that statement to be a fundamental truth.

    American history shows, however, that sometimes that statementmust also be an argument in a debate. In 1790, Congress could havepassed a law banning freedom of speech, religion, or press. In1864, states were free to permit slavery within their borders. In1869, black men were legally blocked from voting. In 1919, womenwere still denied suffrage. In 1963, poll taxes could still keepthose groups from expressing their voice on Election Day. In eachinstance, constitutional amendments were ratified one yearafterwards to either protect the existence of our most basicfreedoms, ban the most egregious forms of human exploitation, andright the worst of society’s wrongs.

    ‘The amendment process has addressed many serious mattersof national concern. And the preservation of marriage rises to thislevel of national importance.’ With these words, PresidentBush officially placed the preservation of marriage within therealm of the great societal struggles of previous centuries. And tobe sure, there is great cause for concern. Countless marriages havebeen rocked by divorce, adultery, and abuse. Given the invaluablebenefits of a happy and healthy union, we certainly ought topreserve, protect and defend it.

    In response, our President seeks to deny those who would onlystrengthen that institution the right to marry. As we have recentlywitnessed in the streets of Boston and San Francisco, thousands ofgay and lesbian couples are vowing to love, honor, and cherish oneanother. And there are millions more waiting in the wings for thelegal recognition that every heterosexual couple is able toreceive. Unless I missed something, society has not crumbled withthese developments. Somehow, the nation has managed to endurewithout resorting to constitutionally sanctioneddiscrimination.

    Sadly, the President is not the sole culprit. Vice PresidentDick Cheney has a lesbian daughter, yet is against gay marriages.Congressman Dick Gephardt has a lesbian daughter but opposes herbeing married. John Kerry tells the nation that when he fought inVietnam, no one cared about who you were or where you had comefrom, as long as you were an honorable and decent American. JohnKerry opposes marriage for honorable and decent gay and lesbianAmericans. John Edwards decries the fact that there are ‘twoAmericas’ for the rich and the poor, yet he supports’two Americas’ for the heterosexuals and thehomosexuals – one where the former group can marry and one wherethe latter group cannot.

    Somewhere in America, a young boy asks whether we all have theright to be here. I hope we live up to his father’sanswer.

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