Monday, July 4, 2011

Let's Go "Fourth" to Celebrate...

The United States celebrates its 235th birthday today. (I swear, it doesn't look a day over 200...)

Much like many holidays built around an historic anniversary or milestone, most people will observe Independence Day by eating and drinking (many to excess), partaking in holiday sales, seeing a summer movie and, of course, setting off fireworks for hours. I mean no judgment from my last sentence: I'll admit I don't take the time to reflect on what this holiday means either.

Here's another confession: I'm proud to be an American and I'm proud of (much of) the history of this country, but I don't consider myself patriotic. Sadly, following the period of unity after the 9/11 tragedy, conservative Americans—and, in particular, conservative politicians—appropriated patriotism for themselves, deeming only those who thought they way they did, those who shared their political and moral beliefs to be true patriots. That's certainly not the spirit on which this country was built.

My other issue is that currently, I am considered half a person in this country. Except in six states and the District of Columbia, I cannot marry the person I love because other citizens (many of whom consider themselves the "true patriots") don't believe same-sex couples are worthy of the same rights many of them take for granted and/or abuse.

In some states, I would not be able to stay in the same room as my partner if he were hospitalized, and I could not make medical decisions on his behalf. We cannot adopt a child together in many states, and in all but four states, if we were to decide to hire a surrogate to carry our child, the surrogate mother's name would have to be on the child's birth certificate, so she would have legal rights to reclaim the baby if she so chose.

I am hopeful that the tide will change, but given the strength of the conservative and Tea Party movements, I am pessimistic as well. So I will mark this holiday by celebrating the birth of our country and being grateful for the freedoms all of us have, while still hoping that there will come a time when truly all people will be created and treated equally.

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