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Doing the Right Thing in California

By Enrique Franco

September 8, 2010

I recently had to write a persuasive essay for school on a subject that directly affects me, and came up with this: a little something on that ridiculous issue going on in my birth state of California.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." This statement from the U.S. Declaration of Independence defines what every American citizen pursues and believes in. These rights apply to every American. Unfortunately, some American people would rather infringe on the rights of others while defending their own. One right in particular is the right to marry.

This basic right is being denied to gay and lesbian Americans living in California. Those opposed to gay marriage created a law that banned same sex unions. They believe that homosexuality is a sin and gay marriages would weaken traditional family values. Even though some believe that gay marriages might weaken the definition and respect for the institution of marriage, gays and lesbians should have the right to marry because every American is entitled to equality and justice. People should not have their rights infringed on because of their sexuality. There is more to the California gay community other than the sexual identity.

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The gay community provides enormous contributions to the state. The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center is one of many organizations that provide housing for homeless LGBT youth. They also provide free and low-cost HIV/AIDS care and medications. The San Francisco LGBT Community Center provides childcare services daily while supporting and hosting visual and performing arts showcases throughout the city. The Pacific Pride Foundation provides family support groups and community education on HIV in Santa Barbara. All of these institutions are not only providing education and resources but also employment. These examples are a clear indication to how active and dedicated the gay and lesbian community is. Gay families are also active and dedicated.

Gay families in California believe in family values. In 2007 there were an estimated 26,000 lesbian and gay couples reported to be raising up to 70,000 children across the state. These gay parents teach acceptance, tolerance, and love to their children. They send their children to public schools and participate in their extracurricular activities like any other parent would. They also teach their children obedience and respect toward other people regardless of their differences. They dedicate as much time as needed to create and build a strong family unit. Not only are gays and lesbians capable of community service and parenting, but they are also capable of possessing monogamous relationships.

Gays and lesbians want to marry to publicly and legally celebrate their monogamy. They view marriage as an important symbol of obligation and commitment. Gays and lesbians are capable of love. That capability is demonstrated through their actions in their communities, their families, and with their partners. Their commitment to marriage equates to the average American. There were an estimated 18,000 couples that made that commitment throughout California before Proposition 8 banned same sex marriages. Regardless of this setback, they are just as determined and focused to defend what they believe is a civil right.

The residents of California that oppose same sex marriages decided to deny this right by creating Proposition 8. They pushed for a law that they thought was morally legal while disregarding the rights entitled to their gay and lesbian counterparts. This law passed with 52.1% of the vote. Most Californians voted on this initiative without taking into consideration the consequences of their actions. Those actions infringed on the rights of gays and lesbians. Fortunately, a U.S. federal judge recently overturned this law deeming it unconstitutional.

With the recent repeal of a California law that no longer carries constitutional merit, those Californians opposing same sex marriages have a new option. That option is one of redemption. The opposition can redeem themselves by simply accepting the court's decision and allowing gay marriages to proceed. They can move forward and build a stronger California by working with, and not against, the gay community. They can extend that same acceptance and tolerance toward gays and lesbians that are already acting in that manner.

Most important, the citizens of California can embrace the idea that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness applies to everyone. In doing so, they will be celebrating true democracy and solidarity while rejecting the stereotypes and stigma placed upon the gay marriage issue. Californians have this opportunity to move the Golden State forward into a brighter, tolerant, and peaceful place.

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The U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy got Enrique Franco kicked out of the Army. It also, oddly, was the reason he found out he was HIV positive.


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