Real Voices of Change
Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., an event that occurred three years prior to my birth; nonetheless I am sitting here in my home in Vermont, the whitest state in the country, mesmerized that someone had shot him to death. Fourteen years ago, I sat at the site of the assassination (The Lorraine Motel in Memphis), and tears ran down my eyes. I knew right there that Dr. King was a rare man and that a man like him most likely would never step foot in my lifetime. Some have tried to pinpoint other personalities towards his likeliness but all comparisons fall short. So, on this damp April day in Montpelier, Vermont I reflect on the mood and atmosphere of what occurred a few blocks from my home just the other day as compared to the movement with Dr. King.
For those outside of Vermont, the Vermont House just approved legislation to equalize marriage laws for same sex couples. The Vermont Senate approved the measure a week ago with overwhelming support; however the Republican Governor Jim “Nice-Guy” Douglas has vowed to veto it.
During the past week opponents to gay rights used antiquated religious rhetoric to rationalize their opposition. Some claimed Jesus’ name, their religion, or a supposed principle of natural law. However, underlining their opposition is a world invoked by fear. As it was with the civil rights movements for blacks, women, Irish or Italians fear attacked the opposition’s minds and no rational thought could replace their disposition. Like a wild animal threatened by another, all tracks of rationality were removed for fear.
Just a day after the passage of the Marriage Equality bill, I reflect on the life of Dr. King. Passionately, Dr. King stood up and bucked an oppressive system. As much as Dr. King was credited with dismantling a racist and oppressive system, but in actuality it would have meant nothing without having those who stood up alongside him. Countless blacks marched the streets night and day, and sometimes whites joined them to tackle oppression. Supportive whites were ridiculed as being traitors, carpetbaggers, or nigger-lovers just because they stood up for what was unjust. Without the cross race support the civil rights movements may not have persevered.
Hereto in the gay marriage debate, as individuals we have a duty to stand up and support the rights of the gay community. Those in a majority must operate in a manner that is compassionate to all, even for those in a minority. I beg those who witness any forms of oppression to speak out for your voice is needed to help us all get to the mountaintop.
Forty-two years ago, a white man killed Martin Luther King. James Earl Ray they say shot him (supposedly alone). He is not to blame, for we as society are the real culprits for not taking charge ourselves. We as a society should stand up to all forms of oppression, whether it comes from foreign countries, local governments, or friends and family.
As a human, if you live in Vermont or know any individuals who do have them call or email the following Vermont Representatives ASAP.
Governor Jim Douglas
109 State Street, Pavilion
Montpelier, VT 05609-0101
Phone: 802 828-3333 or http://governor.vermont.gov/contact.html
And the ones who voted no in case the Governor does veto, as he has promised, so the Legislature can override it. Six votes are needed to overide. The contact information for legislators can be found here: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/legdir/legdir2.htm
Those Voting no:
Joe Acinapura, R-Brandon Steven Adams, R-Hartland David Ainsworth, R-Royalton Kenneth Atkins, D-Winooski Sonny Audette, D-South Burlington Joseph Baker, R-West Rutland Clem Bissonnette, D-Winooski Carolyn Branagan, R-Georgia Patrick Brennan, R-Colchester Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington Bill Canfield, R-Fair Haven Gregory Clark, R-Vergennes John Clerkin, R-Hartford, Howard Crawford, R-Burke Michel Consejo, D-Sheldon, Tim Corcoran, D-Bennington, Dennis Devereux, R-Mount Holly Eileen Dickinson, R-St. Albans Andrew Donaghy, R-Poultney Debbie Evans, D-Essex Peter Fagan, R-Rutland City Peg Flory, R-Pittsford Robert Helm, R-Castleton Mark Higley, R-Lowell Richard Howrigan, D-Fairfield Ronald Hubert, R-Milton William Johnson, R-Canaan Duncan Kilmartin, R-Newport City Thomas Koch, R-Barre Joseph Krawczyk, R-Bennington Leigh Larocque, R-Barnet Richard Lawrence, R-Lyndon Robert Lewis, R-Derby Michael Marcotte, R-Coventry Norman McAllister, R-Highgate Patricia McDonald, R-Berlin Francis McFaun, R-Barre Town James McNeil, R-Rutland Town John Morley, R-Barton Mary Morrissey, R-Bennington Linda Myers, R-Essex Chuck Pearce, R-Richford Janice Peaslee, R-Guildhall Peter Perley, R-Enosburg David Potter, D-Clarendon Gary Reis, R-St. Johnsbury Brian Savage, R-Swanton Robert South, D-St. Johnsbury Donald Turner, R-Milton Scott Wheeler, R-Derby Phillip Winters, R-Williamstown Jeff Young, D-St. Albans City
Thanks for standing up for the rights of others; in case the time comes others will be there for you.
“In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.” German anti-Nazi activist, Pastor Martin Niemöller