ARE HOMOSEXUALS SECOND
CLASS CITIZENS IN AMERICA?
By Alan J. Kleipass
Over the summer, there was a blood donor drive on campus where anyone could get free Mets tickets in exchange for their blood. It would have been nice to contribute, but I’m gay, and the American Red Cross’ blood donor rules clearly state that if you “are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977” you cannot donate blood.
If you are heterosexual, you cannot have had sex with a prostitute within the last twelve months to be accepted as a donor, and you probably don’t need to wait at all if it was just sex with your latest girlfriend.
Whenever I walk past the military recruiters, I cannot help but wonder what it would have been like to follow in my father’s footsteps and serve in the Navy.
The U.S.S. Intrepid, now on display on the west side of Manhattan, was the ship he served on as an airman. But, alas, when you are gay you cannot serve openly in the military… unless you live in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Israel, The Netherlands, Lithuania, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Demark, Estonia, the Czech Republic, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, France, or Spain – just to name a few.
Someday I would like to find that special (male) someone and buy into the American dream of getting married and living happily ever after in a house with 2.5 kids and a white picket fence.
A bronze bald eagle atop a patriotic flagpole for the front yard is not the bird President George W. Bush is flipping me in response to that notion.
No, what he and a vocal segment of society is offering is not the American dream. In their vision of America there is no such thing as equal rights for all.
They hope to permanently deny marriage to same-sex couples, strip away rights and benefits they already have, and essentially reduce the GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning) community to what amounts to second-class citizenship.
Many would credit or blame the Religious Right for this. I do not. Yes, religion and religious groups do play a part in it, but I think that we all do, too.
If, because we say that it does not affect us, we sit silently by and allow a small but vocal segment of society to cajole, threaten, or dictate that the government codify discrimination and bigotry into our laws, and into the Constitution itself, then who else do we have to blame but ourselves?
If, whether or not I will be affected by any law was ever the proper litmus test for political action then how many minority groups would have rights today? Would women have the right to vote? Would the black civil rights movement have succeeded, or would Jim Crow be the law of the land – or slavery, for that matter?
You need only look around you on campus to see the truth in the old cliché that America is the great melting pot.
Kingsborough is an integrated campus but we have not lost our identities in the process, nor has this brought us to grief, for we have a respect, if not a total acceptance, for each other’s differences.
There are those who would say that this is not the real world, and I would agree… but wouldn’t it be nice if it were? The future is ours to help sculpt. What shall we do with it?
Should we draw a line and say that the people on this side are entitled to equal rights and the people on that side are not? If homosexuality is a choice, then do we equate it to the choice of what to have for lunch, or the choice of what religion (if any at all) one practices?
Will we send our government the message that it is acceptable by modern society to discriminate because of who someone loves, or profile travelers because of where in the world their family once-upon-a-time came from, or censor and penalize them because their views are not in subservient alignment with official government position?
Shall we send them the message that, as long as it doesn’t raise our taxes or otherwise negatively affect the “US,” then they are free to do as they will [to the “THEM”], or do we demand that the government adhere to the Jeffersonian ideal that we are all equal in the eyes of the law.
Should we remind them that there should never be such a thing as second-class citizenship in the United States of America?