The Slow March of Progress – a take on the inevitability of civil unions

Recently, a proposed ordinance that would establish benefits and protections for city employees in same-sex relationships was tabled indefinitely by Pueblo City Council. I’ll get to that shortly.

Since 2000 when Vermont became the first state in the U.S. to legalize civil unions and registered partnerships between same-sex couples, considerations of equality has spurred progressive, albeit slow-moving, reevaluations of our American ideologies.

Nine years after Vermont makes this bold, unprecedented move in American governance, we finally decide as a nation that the 1969 U.S. Hate Crime Law really should be extended to cover those who are victims of crimes motivated by the hatred of the victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability with the Matthew Shepard Act, the namesake of the measure who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming on October 7, 1998. This took eleven years.

And now, in 2012 with a presidential election gaining course, we still have yet to collectively recognize the lack of equality for all Americans and push for a real change.

Really, America?

For a nation that prides itself on democracy, fairness, and justice, we sure have a way of forgetting about the marginalized sector.

But the times are changing, slowly but surely, with one trudging step forward despite the resistant steps back. True to the nature of Pueblo and unwilling to give up the fight, the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning) Community and Colorado Progressive Action of Pueblo rallied together in solidarity and organized a community meeting held two days after the vote to table the ordinance. A few city council members joined the round table discussions held at Rawlings Library to finally listen to what the community had to say, ultimately deciding to resurrect the ordinance and cast a revote early this month. Elected officials gathering to discuss issues with the community before they vote on an issue that affects people’s lives? I’d say that’s a pretty decent step forward.

The State of Colorado and the cities of Denver and Boulder currently offer equal benefits to same-sex couples. For this to be a consideration in Pueblo is, well, appropriately progressive. As more cities extend their views of equality beyond the traditions expected from our nation’s inception, more states will follow suit, and eventually we will once again recognize another blemish in our belief system, and we will seek to make amends to those we’ve collectively oppressed by granting rights we fight for and define as inalienable.

The idea of equality for same-sex partnerships is so much more than dollars and cents for health care coverage (although the opposition smartly legitimizes their stance based on tangible things like money rather than intangible things like morality); it’s a refusal to accept anything less than equal treatment in all avenues of society. Equality really is a tricky concept.

It’s inevitable that one day in the future, we’ll look back to this time in American history as a time of progression, striving for a better nation where rights are equal across the board. True to our American determinism, the fight will continue to be fought until all are equal.

It took 94 years for race to be irrelevant to vote. It took 144 years for women to vote. And while other nations have long since recognized same-sex partnerships as legitimate, as with their collective choices to allow race and gender’s irrelevance to vote, the essence of equality that stems from these oppressions will be finally be granted some day, nearly 240 years after we became an independent country on the basis of freedom and equality.

That’s progress.

by Sara Crowe

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