Written by: Leon Cheong
In a city as socially liberal as Palo Alto, blatant discrimination against gay people is hard to find. For the most part, people practice tolerance and good will towards people of all ethnic backgrounds, religious affiliations, political creeds and sexual orientation. These laudable efforts towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) acceptance can be seen through events such as Not In Our Schools (NIOS) week. However, I feel alarmed when I see that at times, people take this locally blissful tolerance for granted when, in other regions around the globe, homophobia is magnified to the point where legislation is passed to directly attack gay people. Even California has yet to repeal Proposition 8, which has banned gay marriage in the state. There have been instances when we have faced the weight of this problem, primarily when the Westboro Baptist Church brought a hate rally directly across the street from Gunn. Despite this, many Gunn students have yet to realize the gravity of the intolerance of gay people that exists outside of tolerant regions, as well as the nation’s general failure to address this problem. Aside from the occasional scattered protests many, Americans have failed to accrue a substantial public effort to curb these national and international injustices. Citizens must come to realize that this country cannot justly operate under these conditions of established inequality.
The argument for and against LGBT rights undeniably spawns from people’s ideals that may come from upbringing, religion or other personal factors. So long as unique cultures, religions and ethnic groups exist, there will always be people who will struggle to keep their own feelings of discomfort or superiority at bay. This does not, however, give people the right to attempt to oppress a specific demographic. It is morally and constitutionally wrong to try and instigate one’s own principles, religious or otherwise, unto the American political system in a way that compromises the institution of equality. Things like bigotry and racism are not completely solvable problems. However, we must take action to prevent government support of these ideas, such as legislation that denies same-sex couples the right to marry. It is not constitutionally sound to perpetuate a system in which there will always be a certain group or groups of people who will be oppressed in some form or another. This is a dilemma that has encompassed many people and has plagued the nation for too long. In response, the American people must take action.
The nature of today’s activism for gay rights has echoed across centuries of movements for equality. The efforts of people to create a nation blind to sexuality mirrors that of the people who made America a place where people of all races would be treated equally on political, social and economic spectrums. The progress that has been made between the era before the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-20th century and now has been astounding on an exponential level. The strive for LGBT equality has the potential to become the Civil Rights Movement of our era. I see two movements side by side with different motives, different time periods and different demographics, but with identical goals, identical justifications and identical struggles. If people successfully mimic the vehement drive of vigor and determination of the people who fought for racial equality not long ago, then one day, America will find itself a nation blind to sexual orientation. At this moment, a social and legislative battle must be fought. The ultimate goal of equality and acceptance is far, but is not out of reach.