Saturday, June 18, 2011

From Stonewall to Same Sex Marriages

In the history of American Gay Rights movement, Stonewall is and shall always be a legend in the pursuit for equal rights. The Stonewall uprising that took place for three endless days in the summer of 1969 in Greenwich village, New York was a protest for pride, and the beginning of a social revolution. At the time when civil rights and the feminist movement were gaining ground, the Stonewall revolt became the keystone for gay liberation and marked the dawn of ‘gay power.’ This year in June, the Stonewall revolution shall celebrate its 42nd anniversary and would once again remind us of the unconstitutional harassment and discrimination against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community. Over four score years later, achieving equality for and full social acceptance of LGBT still remains an unforgettable dream. Many LGBTs, in the recent past, have been open and assertive about their sexual orientation through the support of advocacy and human rights groups. In the past, opinion polls have also shown a change of attitude and perceptions in many Americans, which led to the legalization of civil unions in many states in the U.S. However, civil unions and same-sex marriages are still restricted and are not deemed as an acceptable equal right. Although civil unions provide privileges to same-sex couples as heterosexual couples are entitled to in a marriage, yet civil unions are a compromise over marriage that thus rejects same sex couples’ identity, relationship status, and their civil rights.  

As of now, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire are the five states that legalize same-sex marriages though other U.S. states delimit such rights as degenerative and iniquitous. New York, being the home to gay rights movement currently awaits the decision to legalize gay marriages as a preeminent part of diversity. Issues on LGBT rights and same-sex marriages, however, have been an incessant debate at both federal and state legislative levels with a partisan divide among the Democrats, the Independents, and the Republicans. In addition, the gender and generation gap in the society, the mores of marriage, and the conventional dictates of religion are some additional deterrents to same-sex marriages. The question that thus arises is if the LGBTs would continue to live and die with their minority status? Or would they have to silently suffocate in a democracy that despite being emancipated has forgotten the ideals of equality and freedom? Other overwhelming challenges include if our society is too patriarchal, intolerant, and deep rooted that it cannot accept change? Or if sharing happiness, love, relationship, and intimacy too is a privilege? Finally, who among us decides if the society is too permissive of attitudes about sexuality? And if the religion edifies us to discriminate when it actually teaches us to love and accept differences.

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Photo Courtesy:  Barkha Dhar

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