What a week for human rights.

“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. . . . The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort.”

Those are the words of Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals writing for the majority on the ruling that deemed California Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The ruling passed on Feb. 7 with a 2-1 vote.

Prop 8 was passed by voters in November 2008 with a 52 percent “yes” and 47 percent “no” ruling. Much has changed in those three and a half years, and many opponents have worked diligently to reverse what some have called the “gay Brown v. Board of Education” ruling.

Opponents of this ruling may file an appeal, which could lead to a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court. For now, those who support same-sex marriage can celebrate this huge stride toward equality and advancement for human rights.

“Why in the world would we not allow those equal rights to those individuals who are truly committed to each other in life?” Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-College Place, said after state lawmakers approved to allow same-sex marriage in Washington State on Feb. 8. The bill passed 56-42 with three Democrats against and two Republicans for. This makes Washington No. 7 in the nation to allow gay marriage after New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Washington, D.C. lawmakers in New Jersey are expected to vote on the issue next week.

“Human rights” might be one of the most loaded phrases in the English language, but perhaps it is more suitable in this circumstance than “gay rights.” The trend of throwing “gay” in front of everything seems to be prevalent. Gay people want to get gay married this gay second. This adds an element of detachment when gay people are simply just people who want to get married.

Many of us are familiar with the opposing views, whether they are a clash of religious teachings or personal beliefs. Some argue that allowing gay people to get married directly clashes with family values and some question why we should change the way it’s always been.

Over these past three years, since Prop 8 became a major divisive issue in American politics, many have changed their perspective on this. So many homosexual families and couples have come forward to tell their individual stories and share with society that they are regular human beings who have no agenda other than to get the same thing as the heterosexual couple next door.

There is no devious plot to destroy “family values” (another vague, loaded term that American citizens throw around), but to instead implement another outlet of human tolerance in the fabric of American society.

We, as American citizens, have not seen the last of this issue, not even close. Every step is a tiny victory for equality.

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