Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In Support of Same-Sex Bi-national Couples

Guest blogger: Tianwen Xu, LL.M. Student, University of San Francisco

The Road towards Realization of the Motto in Declaration of Independence

As the cornerstone of United States, Declaration of Independence clearly expressed the following motto:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men.”

Public power: guardian or threat to people’s rights?

I think to a certain extent, I am an anarchist. I hate all kinds of hierarchy. According to the Enlightenment Period philosopher - Rousseau’s classic book – “The Social Contract”, government is formed by contract among equal people. Such opinion is also reflected in the Declaration of Independence. However, the truth is, sometimes, the public power – the government, the legislature and the judicial power can be evil. Consider, for example, the decision of Plessy v. Ferguson, where the Supreme Court held that racial segregation was constitutional, paving the way for the repressive Jim Crow laws in the South. Rather than being a guardian of rights, the decision was a threat to people’s rights. Those who exercise public power often forget why we need public power. When you require people to obey the law, remember, the law is the method, not the goal; protection of people’s rights is the objective. However, sometimes, the situation is up-side down. People obey the law, without considering whether the law is just, such as DOMA.

America: are you the lighthouse of democracy and freedom?

America regards itself as the lighthouse of democracy and freedom. But when it comes to same-sex marriage, this seems not to be the case. About two decades ago, in 1995, then-first lady of United States – Hillary Clinton – delivered a famous speech at the UN Women’s Conference in Beijing. The title was “Women’s rights are human rights.” My question is: How about gay rights? There is no doubt that gay rights are also human rights. Advocates for recognizing same-sex marriages for bi-national immigration purposes regard same-sex marriage as a “humanitarian issue;” One U.S. citizen in the situation has concluded that she may have to move to Britain - a country where she will be treated as human being. Eleven countries (Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden) recognize same-sex marriages. Bills legalizing same-sex marriage have been proposed, passed, or are pending in at least one legislative house in Andorra, Colombia, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Nepal, New Zealand, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay as well as in the legislatures of several sub-national jurisdictions. Given this international movement, will America still be at the vanguard of protecting human rights when a U.S. citizen says she must move to a different country where she will be treated as human being?

Future: how long is the road to realizing an important motto of Declaration of Independence?

When people in the future look back to today, what will they think?

From Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel – Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) to President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (1863), from the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution giving blacks the right to vote (1870) to Brown v. Board of Education when the Supreme Court held that racial segregation in school was unconstitutional (1954), from Martin Luther King’s dream to Barack Obama’s re-election, the road toward equality is not straight, but goals were finally achieved.

Hillary Clinton’s mother was born in the days before 1920, when women had no right to vote; yet a little more than four years ago, Hillary Clinton made a strong run for the White House. It’s remarkable that a mother had no right to vote, by her daughter became a candidate for the highest office.

First we saw African American win civil rights, then women’s rights have been recognized. Today we are engaged in a campaign for gay rights. Ten states and the District of Columbia have legalized same –sex marriage. I think everybody knows this is the direction of history—this is the trend of the world. In Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”, he asked “how many times must the cannon balls fly before they’re forever banned; how many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free; how many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry; how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?” Considering the rough road toward  equality for black Americans and women, my question is:

America, this time,
how much blood must you see,
how many heart-broken stories must you hear,
how many true loves must you destroy,
how many basic human rights must you violate,
how high is the price that innocent people must pay
BEFORE you realize the you should live up to the motto in Declaration of Independence,
which was written 237 years ago –

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men.”

bh

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