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Commentary: Voting rights, gay rights, women’s rights ... the beat goes on

One wouldn't think that the fight for the right to vote would really exist in the United States of America in the year 2013, would one?

I wish I understood the mind-set of people who don't believe that African-Americans should have the right to vote. OK, maybe they can vote, but they certainly like to make it as difficult as humanly possible for them. Let's make them stand in lines for hours or purge their names from the voting list, and by all means let’s have U.S. Supreme Court judges tell them that portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act no longer has meaning. Let's make sure they know their place.

To me, messing with any part of the Voting Rights Act is like spitting on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, and President Lyndon Johnson, and every other person who marched and carried signs and signed petitions, and worked for civil rights. All those brave souls who sat in seats at a lunch counter and demanded to be served, or walked into a high school and demanded an education - or walked surrounded by police and national guard soldiers, into a college simply because they wanted a better life than the one they had.

I am appalled that in the United States of America in the year 2013 we are still fighting for voting rights, for gay rights, for women's rights. We're still struggling with the whole “freedom of religion” thing, and the whole “freedom of the press” thing. It’s just my opinion, but when one man owns most of the media outlets, that is not “freedom of the press.”

These people who block legislation and shut down any rights a woman may have to her own body and do it in the name of freedom - I want to ask them: Freedom for whom? It’s certainly not the women who no longer have access to an abortion or contraception or any of the other services that Planned Parenthood has to offer.

For a country that was built on the whole concept of freedom, there seems to be this great divide on which of its peoples are allowed these freedoms. There has been this divide since the beginning of our United States when the laws of the land were written by and for white men. One has to only look at what was done to Native Americans to understand the mind-set of these privileged white men who had no problem marching the Native Americans right off their land and claimed it all for the good of the country. Privilege does have its rewards.

Voting rights, women’s rights, gay rights: Why is there always a certain class of people who have to fight for what is already their right as an American citizen? And why is there always a group of people who make it their life’s work to make sure these rights are not given – or more to the point – taken away? Who are these people and who has empowered them with this sense of entitlement?

This is where religion seems to come into the mix – and this is where it all goes off the rails.

The playing field is most certainly not level for all Americans – it should be – but it most certainly is not. Unless and until there is equality for everyone – there should be no equality for anyone.

Voting rights, women’s rights, gay rights ... the beat goes on.

Barb Hamp Weicksel was born in 1952 in Pennsylvania and moved to California in the early 1980s, where she met her partner Susan. They've been together some 30 years and share the love of Susan's four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her blog, Barb's Gift of Gab, can be found HERE.