Civil rights for all

BY JBILLY@LAW.HARVARD.EDU

The conception of civil rights described by Ms. Dunbar in her guest opinion piece (“Gay marriage is not a civil rights issue” March 11) is shortsighted and inaccurately ignores the transcendent nature of Black America’s involvement in civil rights efforts. The civil rights movement was, and continues to be, about more than achieving racial equality. Rather, it is about forcing America to make good on its promise of liberty, equality, and justice for all.

Ms. Dunbar uses a test of immutability for determining whether a group is worthy of inheriting the legacy of the Black civil rights struggle. However, even if you believe that homosexuality is a choice (though much scientific evidence suggests otherwise), American state and federal constitutional jurisprudence continually protects religion, marital status, creed, and alienage-categorizations that are all choices. By arbitrary circumscribing equal protection doctrines in a manner excluding gay and lesbian Americans, Ms. Dunbar harrowingly suggests that social popularity of a group should determine whether it receives the rights of full citizenship under the law.

Ms. Dunbar notes that Black Americans are not the only owners of the Civil Rights legacy. Indeed, she is correct. All Americans are entitled to invoke the legacy of the Civil Rights struggle to further their own equality efforts. Martin Luther King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, has herself drawn parallels between modern gay rights struggle and Black American efforts toward racial equality. Although race-based, gender-based, and sexual orientation-based discrimination are not qualitatively equivalent, none of these forms of animus have any place in American law.

Jason Billy, 2L

Treasurer, HLS LambdaMember, Harvard Black Law Students Association

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