MLK's Legacy - America's Promise: Equal Justice Under Law

Cross-posted at Out for Democracy. "We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream," proclaimed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I just heard the speech in its entirety, and if you haven't seen it lately, it's worth watching. Bradblog has the video. It stirred me up inside, giving me chills as he gave hope victory over fear. As he showed love's victory over hate. As he proved that the arc of history does indeed bend towards justice. It's not just an inspiring speech; rather it is one the embodies what America is all about. Dr. King's dream was the founding principle of our land, the words inscribed in stone on top of our Supreme Court: Equal Justice Under Law. Dr. King's vision of America was one where all of her citizens were judged not by the social labels and stigma but by the content of their character. America, at its core a nation of laws, was challenged by Dr. King to enshrine into its laws the simple belief that before the law all people are indeed equal. Lady Justice does not see anything but the law and its equal and fair judgment regardless of what the person before her is. Is that vision of equal justice under the law really so far away from the demands a fair legal playing field for people without regard to our sexual orientation or gender identity? Is it wrong for us to ask for this mighty nation to judge us by the contents of our character and not the gender of the person we fall in love with? Tell me, is it wrong for us - law-abiding, tax-paying, hard-working American citizens - to demand to be treated with equal dignity under the law? Is it so wrong for our families to treated with the same respect as every one else's? Is it wrong for our children to access the same opportunities as everyone else - without fear, favor or shame? Does our sexual orientation bar us from wanting to see justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream? I think not. In fact, America has stayed silent for too long while her gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens have lived under social suppression, legal discrimination and political humiliation. For too long, America has stayed silent in the face of violence of hatred against us. Too long has America been silent while fundamental individual, social and family rights are denied - in the name of law itself - to her citizens. No more. Just because there are new targets of legal discrimination and political lynching - gays - and just because there are a different set of challenges that is faced - namely, beyond violence, the issues of marriage, adoption, family, health, right to work, protection from hate crimes - does not mean that this is not a struggle to achieve equality for all people. It is. We are a great nation. We are a nation of laws. And justice can't wait. Yes, gains we have made have been significant in the past years, but so have the losses. Today, I say it doesn't matter if you are straight or gay or bisexual, nor does it matter what your gender identity is. Justice is not going to be achieved without our straight friends and families. The one reason that the right wing nutjobs are beating up on GLBT folks is they too recignize our fight as one for civil rights and equal justice. And they know full well that once started, every single movement for equality has ultimately been successful. They know that we will achieve equality and that it's only a matter of time. They know defeat is knocking on their door. Because, Dr. King is right. The arc of history may be long, but it does bend toward justice.

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