Discrimination is discrimination is discrimination no matter what form it takes. Prejudice against a group, based on a real or perceived traits, is still discrimination. That trait can be nationality, gender, culture, skin tone, physical ability, religion and so forth. No matter what a person uses to pre-judge an individual as not worthy of being equal, it is still discrimination. And not matter what form that discrimination takes–subtle or overt, verbal or physical, institutionalized or socialized–it is still vile; it is still wrong.
So why do we as a people engage in the ‘my discrimination can beat up your discrimination’ sparing when it comes to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBTs) rights? We see it constantly on commentaries about any gay issue; particularly that of gay marriage equality. People site how being gay is different because we weren’t enslaved; we weren’t rounded up to work camps and gassed; we weren’t biologically born a man/woman; gay is a behavior; gay is learned vs. innate, the list goes on. Why are we using how we are oppressed as a yardstick as to what is validates equality and what does not?
In looking at history there is no denying that humans have done horrible things to one another based on traits that have nothing to do with character. We have been discriminating against one another since long before the question of gay marriage equality arose and long before the United States was founded. Even our forefathers recognized discrimination by putting into the preamble of the Constitution “in Order to form a more perfect Union.” They recognized that what they were creating had flaws, but could continually strive for more perfection. This is what we are doing today with the latest in a long struggle toward that goal of a more perfect Union.
When we look back to the discrimination of the past, we should own up to it as well as own it. We should feel some sense of shame that it happened, but we should also feel some sense of pride that in some ways we have moved beyond it and strive to continue to do so. We should not forget the ways in which people were discriminated against in the past or turn a blind eye to how they may be discriminated against in the present because that’s how we learn. That’s how we better ourselves as a nation. However, in owning up to and owning discrimination, we should not be using it as tool to determine who deserves equality and who does not. We should not be using our own historical experiences with discrimination as a validation whether or not another group is really deserves equality. We shouldn’t be doing this because discrimination is indiscriminate.
Discriminations purpose is to put another person down; to take away the self-esteem of a person; to make an individual feel less than; to crush the soul and keep a certain group in their place or do away with them all together. Discrimination also serves the purpose of making the discriminator feel superior to another group; raising their self-esteem through artificial means because discrimination does is not based on the content of the character, but on what is contained in characteristics. And what matters is character.
Our experiences through time and today with discrimination are different and varied. Some had horrid experiences and some were had experiences that were less horrid. But there is one thing amongst all our experiences that is common: the lack of being an equal. We share the lack of being viewed as someone who has just as much value and worth as the next person. And we share the pain which that view causes. Just because our experiences are different does not make that pain any less and does not make my equality any less valid than yours.