Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
When I stop to think about it, I marvel that despite the fact that the likes of Dick Cheney, Jesse Helms, Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond, Mitch McConnell, and John McCain voted against its creation, there is a national holiday honoring Dr. King - an honor that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln do not share.
For my generation - and any other generation too young to have been there - there is a need to tell ones self that if they had been alive during the Civil Rights movement, they would have stood shoulder to shoulder with Dr. King on the side of good.
My generation's attitudes about race are certainly more in line with those of Dr. King than Gov. George Wallace's, but does that mean that if you were there then, a product of those times and that culture rather than our own, that you would stand up for civil rights?
I once read, and forgive me for not remembering where, that a very good indicator of where you would stand on Civil Rights if you were alive in the '60s is your stance of Gay rights right now.
Though that statement seems self evident today. It was a revelation when I read it back when I was in high school in the '90s. Though I would have probably self identified as a Democrat and a liberal then, I was far less interested and far less involved in politics and/or social causes at the time.
People on both sides of the debate would probably point out differences between the struggle that Dr. King embarked upon and the one facing so many Americans today. And yes, there are incidental differences, but at the root, both struggles are the same -to ensure that every American, even those in maligned minority groups, is ensured equality.
Anti-gay forces understand that King's stance was the right stand. That's why they are so vocal in their claims that one struggle for civil rights is so different from the other. A realization by the public that they are the same struggle would lend incredible credence to to the efforts to end discrimination, both personal and governmental, against the LGTB community.
When we remember Dr. King, we do best to remember his struggle for equality for all Americans, period. The specific fronts in his battle are different than fronts we face today. Both are invaluable steps towards fulfilling the promise of America.
Martin Luther King