Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
June 1, 2012
Why Think About The Promise Of America?
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
Last Monday was Memorial Day. The day came, there was a barbecue, good company, and the day went. It was a day for ruminating what, beyond barbecue and drink, Memorial Day really is all about. Maybe because we are both Asian immigrants, finding the reason for holidays teaches us something about America. Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those who fought and died in America’s service. From there our thoughts went to what American soldiers fight and die for. And from there: “What does America stand for?”
There is a gap between what America stands for and what America is. What it stands for was written over 225 years ago under circumstances that required the justification for dissolving political bonds that bound a colony to its mother country. It stands for all men are created equal and have unalienable rights. Almost one hundred years later, being created equal led to equal protection under the law. The words were not true when written and they are not true today. But the words still ring today and the real story is that in its short existence America has fought hard to come closer and closer to their being a reflection of the real.
Today, we are working hard to include LGBT people in the “equal protection under the law” idea. There is progress, but the progress is with words, in laws and court rulings, because that is how conditions in America change. It starts with people generally not thought to be included in America’s idea asserting their right to be included, then the slow realization that the agitators are right, then laws and court rulings, words that affirm inclusion. For our community, agitation came with the June 28, 1969, Stonewall riots when sexual minorities rebelled against a government sponsored system for their persecution. Since then, we have witnessed unbelievable progress. This year alone, a federal judge struck down proposition 8 and three different judges so far have ruled that to have a law on the books defining marriage as only between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. Six states, two Indian tribes, and the District of Columbia allow same sex marriage. We are absolutely without a doubt that soon words that exclude LGBT people from equal participation in America’s idea will be illegal. After the words are written, though, comes the hard and difficult work of making the words come alive.
When you are daily working specific problems, frustration with the ignorance and prejudice that create problems where there shouldn’t be any is difficult to avoid. Every so often, lift your head above the fray and remember the end result. It will be there, because America always does the right thing after it has done all the wrong things. In time it will remember its promise to the world: America exist to ensure all “an unfettered start and a fair chance n the race of life.”
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org