The passage of Proposition 8 in California, as well as the bans on gay marriage in Arizona and Florida, only reinforce my thinking that the US Constitution needs to be amended to protect equal rights for all Americans.
True progress will not be made for gays, lesbians, transgendered nor intersex people without protection from the US constitution. LGBT folks are protected by the constitution, but until an amendment appears stating explicitly that all people should be equal, then bigoted legistlation like Proposition 8 will continue to work its way into the books.
Constitutional history demstronstrates that amendments in the constitution enshrined civil rights for black Americans and voting rights for women.
13th Amendment: Outlawed slavery.
14th Amendment: Equal protection under the law. Due Process. Citizenship clause.
15th Amendment: Voting rights cannot be abridged based on race.
19th Amendment: Voting right cannot be abridged based on sex.
24th Amendment: Eliminated poll taxes.
With civil rights specifically protected by the Amendment, the US Supreme Court would have to make decisions that protect civil rights. Brown vs. Board of Education is an example of how the Supreme Court interpreted "Separate, but Equal" arguments as unconstitutional.
An Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) would raise doubt in Federal laws like the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Specific language stating that sex discrimination is illegal would recognize same-sex marriage as a right that has to be protected under the US Constitution, and therefore superceding state laws banning gay marriage.
The Equal Rights Amendment would also being greater equality not only for women or LGBT persons, but for all people. Is that such a bad thing?
In our recent history when we have finally elected a mixed race man to the White House, is it not time to bring about greater equality in the United States?
If I had one hour with President-Elect Obama:
I would tell him my experience as a gay, Asian American. I would tell him how proud I am to be such a person. I would tell him, I would not be able to serve openly gay in the military. I would explain to him how I would not be able to share in Federal benefits that come with marriage should I decided to marry my lover one day. I would tell him that even in 2009, with all the progress the US has made within the last 40 years, most Americans are afraid of LGBT people.
Race and sex are still challenges that must be confronted with this new administration. I'm not arguing that health care and economics are not important, but we often neglect civil rights. Just examine the past eight years and you'll understand how civil rights often are ignored.