“I believe in equal rights but where does it end?”

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by Karen Topakian

That’s what I overheard someone say yesterday about the California Supreme court decision that upheld Prop 8.

It’s a good question, where does it end?

Does it end when all people have received their equal rights under the law, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, creed, religion, physical and mental ability, and immigration status? That could take forever.

And how will we know when we’re there? Will the New York Times print this banner headline in 48 point, “Mazel Tov! Finally everyone has all of their equal rights!”

Or should we set an arbitrary date, say December 31, 2020, for the request of protection of all equal rights. Effective January 1, 2021, all courts will be closed to new applications. This would significantly cut down on the number of lawyers needed and lawsuits filed. Legal organizations and defense funds wouldn’t need to raise so much money. Federal judges couldn’t complain anymore of being over-worked and under-paid.

The person whom I overheard asking this provocative question was an older white man. Not wanting to stereotype him but I wonder if he ever had to think about the protection or the fight for his rights. As a straight white man (he was sitting with his wife), all of his rights were bestowed upon him at birth.

His comment reminded me of something my Nana said during the struggle to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, “You don’t want to be too equal to men.” I asked her if equality were measured on a spectrum. I never heard an answer.

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