As part of AF&O’s effort to promote the US Senate campaign of a true Pennsylvania progressive, every weekday until the Keystone State’s May 16 Democratic primary election, we present candidate Dr. Chuck Pennacchio on one of the many issues facing Pennsylvania and the nation. Today: Pennacchio on Equal Rights.
From Pennacchio for Senate:
For too long we have been separated and divided by artificial lines of race, religion, class, gender and sexual orientation. The politics of division is a troubling proposition for a country founded upon the creed, “all men are created equal.”
The issue of equal rights is fundamental for all Americans. Since women’s suffrage and the end of racial segregation we have prided ourselves on our concepts of freedom and liberty. Congressman John Lewis, who was beaten unconscious in Alabama while marching for equal rights said, “I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color to not stand up for discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
When Americans struggle against the natural tide of equal rights for all Americans, they are defending a history of discrimination that has persisted since the birth of our nation. Similarly, when the radical right attempts to write bigotry into our U.S. Constitution they reflect that same dark impulse to deny equality to a class of citizens.
The gay community has been exempted from the concept of equal justice under law by a system of apartheid that creates two classes of citizens based on sexual orientation. Every American who works hard, pays taxes, and plays by the rules deserves the same benefits and protections the rest of us are afforded. The right to visit a loved one in the hospital and peace of mind that comes with shared tax, health, and inheritance benefits are rights all Americans should enjoy, regardless of sexual orientation.
Same gender unions in no way pose a credible threat to the sanctity of marriage. The national divorce rate is 49%, and the only place where same gender marriage is legal, Massachusetts, has the lowest divorce rate in the country. Also, Vermont’s civil union law has been a particular success, and a boost for that state’s economy.
The issue of equal rights extends beyond Republican attempts to divide us on the single question of gay marriage. As a moral authority in the world, our country must take the lead on curing the scourge of global AIDS. We must also participate in a rational discussion to determine appropriate responses to hate crimes at the state and federal levels. Ensuring a freedom from fear of prejudice is a goal that should unite us; creating an artificial fear of our neighbors is a Republican tool used to divide us.
The Pennsylvania primary is May 16. Between now and then, do all you can to support a true, people-focused progressive for the US Senate. And don’t miss the Pennacchio Issue of the Day tomorrow.