A woman’s right to vote was debated for decades.
One of the arguments against the 19th Amendment was the threat of the “petticoat rule” which claimed that in locations where female voters outnumbered males it would skew legislation away from men’s issues.
There were other equally ridiculous claims, such as women didn’t want the vote or didn’t care, and the chilling idea that society may unleash some great evil, so it was better not to risk women’s suffrage. Many felt that early 20th century women were doing just fine without the vote. Then there was the argument that since women were physically incapable of enforcing the law, they had no right to determine it.
These seem like quaint notions of a bygone era, but it may shock you to realize that this occurred less than a century ago. After 41 years of protest, the constitutional amendment was ratified in 1920.
Fast forward to some 47 years later, and the Supreme Court ruled that states could not ban interracial marriage. The Deep South persisted in their support for anti-miscegenation laws, and it wasn’t until the year 2000 that Alabama voters finally elected to legalize it.
And we all remember that it was only a couple of years ago that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.
What do all these civil rights movements have in common?
It is that all the fears and hype surrounding these issues were groundless. Once the matter was decided, life progressed pretty much as it had been all along. There wasn’t mass chaos. As a result, society didn’t break down. No great catastrophes occurred as the opposition promised.
History tells us that granting civil rights to oppressed people is a positive move for society.
I think we all have a sense of embarrassment when we look back in hindsight at the level of hysteria, the hollow arguments, the obstruction to giving specific groups of people equal rights. We get a strong feeling afterward that the foundations of these cases – the reasons for discriminating against individuals — are merely excuses that fall apart under the harsh light of history’s scrutiny.
Earlier this week Donald Trump declared that transgender soldiers would be banned from serving in America’s military. No real reason was given. No one was demanding that this happen. In fact, there are many transgender men and women already serving without incident. No protest marches are demanding Washington act.
As many immediately pointed out, your gender at birth doesn’t determine whether you love your country, whether you can be a hero, or if you are well-suited to give your life for your nation. It has no bearing on the matter whatsoever, and we all know it. And there is that feeling again that we’re going to look back on this and cringe. But because they want to discriminate against a group, they had to provide a reason other than, “We don’t like them” or “We want to control them.”
You could sense the administration was scrambling, so they landed on the idea that gender reassignment surgery would be too costly. This falsehood was quickly dispatched as it was pointed out it would cost less than Trump’s golf trips this year, or the current cost to treat erectile dysfunction. The arguments immediately fell apart and actually, no one was buying it anyway.
Most of us are scratching our heads trying to figure out why they are so afraid.
Perhaps it is time we stop allowing the Washington to dictate which group of Americans are treated favorably, who are discriminated against, and who we allow dying for our nation.
Maybe it’s because so many of our politicians are elderly and clinging to outdated beliefs. The sitting Congress is currently one of the oldest groups we have ever elected and have very little in common with their constituents. Perhaps it is because they don’t listen. We have senators and representatives refusing to hold town halls. Maybe it is because we have a GOP majority in the House and Senate.
Whatever the reason, it is time for a change. We need to elect leaders who will abide by the wishes of those they serve and restore sanity to our government. This madness must stop.
My name is Brianna Westbrook, and as a trans woman, I am deeply committed to protecting the rights of all people. If you too care about civil rights, please support me in my campaign for the House of Representatives.