The United States Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776, states “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.” Tomorrow Americans everywhere will raise flags, watch parades, go to baseball games, have picnics and watch fireworks fly through the sky. All of this in celebration of the anniversary of our declared independence from the King of England, and his tyranny.
I like to think of myself as a fairly patriotic gal. There are times when I get teared up during the playing of our national anthem (not just because most people sing it so horribly) but because of the circumstance around it. I put my hand over my heart and sing proudly. In the back of my mind I wonder how independent we really are.
In other ways I think of independence and wonder about the people that were already here on this land. They were never under the rule of King George, but fell under the rule of Colonials. How about the slaves brought over to serve these same colonials? Where was their independence? About 100 years away, and then it took another 100 for actual civil rights.
This past few weeks have been riddled with rulings from the United States Supreme Court. These rulings were monumental steps forward as well as huge steps backward. The declaration of DOMA section 3 to be deemed unconstitutional is in some ways an Independence Day for the LGBT community. The court’s decision to not hear the Proposition 8 case was another huge step in the right direction for equal rights for the LGBT community. The court could have gone farther, but it was still monumental and it was something that created great reasons for celebration.
The Supreme Court ruled that states are no longer restricted from setting voting rules and may make it much more difficult for every American to easily exercise their right to vote. This seems like a Jeckle and Hyde SCOTUS. On one moment taking away the right to vote, basically, for some American citizens, and on the other hand, opening the pathway to more equal rights for other Americans.
Tomorrow, when lighting off your fireworks and eating your hot dogs, hamburgers and hopefully some great potato salad, remember that still, to this day, not all American Citizen are allowed to live up to that Declaration of Independence. Someday all of these truths will be self-evident.