In the United States today, we pride ourselves today on living in a nation conceived in liberty for all. It seems contrary to these roots to hold to a policy of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But the fact remains that our former so called democratic president Bill Clinton signed a law known as the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 which supports such a legacy of discrimination. The law denies federal recognition to marriages between two people of the same sex. Activists have always found the stark contrast between the name and effect of this law to be rather amusing- the law claims to defend marriage when it in fact works to undermine the efforts of many devoted couples who wish to enter that blessed union. Similar laws denying recognition of same sex marriages at the state level exist around the nation, as conservatives battle homosexuality with flowery speeches about traditional values and the morals of our country.

Such opponents of same sex marriages say that marriage has traditionally been the union of a man and a woman. When I hear this, I cannot help but wonder how many other traditions of marriage they support. There was a time when tradition in this country dictated that marriage was a union between a white man and a white woman- indeed, laws against interracial marriages were not declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court until 1967. Now, a mere 35 years later, America is faced with a new hurdle to overcome towards true equality for all. Can we as a people learn to overlook sexual orientation in matters of marriage as were learned to overlook race?

Looking back, interracial marriage, like same sex marriage, was once prohibited because it was generally thought to be wrong. But notions of “right” and “wrong” have no place in arguments of liberty! Morals are a personal matter, formed from religion, parental guidance, experiences… all things that can lead to a loathing of homosexuality. Maybe you have heard those around you call homosexuality evil, or perverted, or simply wrong in the eyes of god. But just listen to the ACLU and you will hear exactly the opposite. Thus as long as we as a people do not have a clear moral stance on homosexuality, unified and unbending, how can we ask the government, which is representative of all people, to dictate such a stance for us? We cannot.

More dangerous to the battle to win the right to marriage for all citizens than those who stand by muttering about morals and traditions are those who dismiss outright the necessity of gaining this right for same sex couples. Even some would be supporters of the movement fail to see the importance of marriage to the homosexual community. Perhaps that is because such people have never thought about the rights that marriage provides a couple, rights that they may take for granted. According to the ACLU, among these rights conferred by marriage are the right to visit a partner or a partner's child in a hospital; inherit from your partner if she or he doesn't have a valid will; obtain joint health, home and auto insurance policies; enter joint rental agreements; make medical decisions on a partner's behalf in event of illness; take bereavement or sick leave to care for a partner or a partner's child; and to choose a final resting place for a deceased partner. And when a same sex relationship is not seen as equal to a heterosexual marriage, these rights may be limited or even nonexistent.

Therefore why are these relationships not allowed to reach the same level as those between a man and a woman? Has our country forgotten that when our forefathers wrote the Declaration of Independence, they declared that "all men are created equal"? I’m sure that everyone here is only too familiar with these words. But perhaps there are some among you who have been disregarding them, whether knowingly or not. Because right now, over 30 states have laws that declare gays and lesbians as lesser citizens by denying them the rights and protection they are due. And many of you, whether through careless words or a mere lack of action, are supporting the public legacy of discrimination that keeps these laws in place.

Allow me to elaborate. How many times have you heard the word “gay” used in a derogatory manner today alone? I myself was in my computer science class just a few days ago, and I heard one of my fellow students refer to a broken down computer as gay. The use of the term seemed a bit odd to me- did he mean by that, perhaps, that he had caught the computer in bed with another Macintosh? By calling that broken computer gay, this student had projected society’s opinion that a gay was less than a person, that gays are somehow "broken." Later that day, another student used the word gay when referring to one of their more awkward peers, which again seems to me a strange insult.

I could go on, for the word gay is overused by people in our society and our schools in some very absurd manners. And yet, unless one finds oneself in the presence of one of the more outspoken “queers,” one rarely hears anything referred to mockingly as “straight” or “hetero.” When this country becomes home to a voting body that can refrain from using sexuality as an insult, or indeed from seeing an alternate lifestyle as something to be mocked or scorned, then maybe such unreasoning discrimination as is embodied in the Defense of Marriage Act will become a thing of the past.

The original form of this writing was a diary rant in my online diary at