This Independence Day, you may have been out and about with your loved ones shooting off fireworks, at a barbecue, or picnicking at your nearby park. During your 4 of July festivities, you may have taken some time to reflect on the meaning of this commemoration. The Declaration of Independence is a significant reminder of our country’s struggle for independence, freedom, and equality.
"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…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government …"
But does this excerpt from the 1776 Declaration of Independence reign true today? On July 12, 2013, there will be a National Gay Blood Drive to repeal the FDA's (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. This ban, originating in 1977, forces people to live as second-class citizens based on their sexual orientation rather than as equals in this country.
The American Medical Association (AMA) spoke out against the ban, stating that it is "discriminatory" and "not based on sound science" as reported in the Huffington Post. Not only is the FDA's ban outdated, but it focuses on a person’s sexual orientation rather than their level of risk.
On this Independence Day, I believe we should all reflect on what the United States of America was founded on; independence, freedom, and equality. Are we truly equal when people continue to be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation? Are all people empowered through liberties outlined in the Declaration of Independence?
As a country, we need to continue to fight for these human rights and abolish policies which prevent us from being equal citizens. Discrimination can only be eradicated through knowledge, communication, and persistence. There will always be those who hold prejudices towards a social group, but as those who are marginalized shed light on these policies, it our job to support their causes with a voice of reason.
Living as a minority, as someone who is psychologically and physically prevented from the same rights as their fellow citizens, is living in captivity. I don't believe this is what our founding fathers truly intended or imagined for this country we call home. Let's continue making it everyone’s home.