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I've heard it defined both ways.  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." could be taken to mean that all people -- members of humanity -- are created equal.  Or, as was true when Thomas Jefferson wrote those words, all free white males.  Perhaps the first, more inclusive, definition was historical revisionism.  It took 144 years before the 9th amendment was passed to allow women to vote, and by the late 20th century the more inclusive definition was popular.

I have a problem understanding why equal rights for all US citizens is an issue.  In America it seems like it ought to be an obvious core value.  Looking at statistics I guess it's not surprising that equal rights is more of a reality in liberal states.  But how is "all people are created equal" a liberal idea?  I view it as a conservative notion.  You start with that basic truth in an allegedly free country and go from there.  If everyone in a free country isn't equally free, how is it a free country?  OK, I get that social assumptions were different in 1776.  But this is 2019.  That is why I was so surprised when Governor Cuomo announced last Friday that the New York State had passed Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and multi-agency regulations to ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors, a rather ruthless procedure that operates on the theory that you can turn a gay person straight, often against the will of the individual who is to be 'converted'.

It's been 243 years since Jefferson wrote 'all men are created equal" and we live in what a 2015 Gallop Poll found is the fifth most liberal state in the union after Washington, DC; Massachusetts; Vermont; and Hawaii.  Would you believe it?  California was sixth!

By the way a Gallop Poll last year found that 4% of Republicans are liberal, while 13% of Democrats consider themselves conservative.  So for my friends who post statements on social media saying that all Republicans are repulsive, or all Democrats are ridiculous, let's stop the hate rhetoric, and acknowledge that all Republicans and Democrats are people who have different ways of looking at things, and who might find they have something in common if there were civil discourse instead of the name calling that has taken over our lives.  Perhaps the 22% of Republican moderates and 34% of Democratic moderates could start a new movement?

My point is, why aren't all American citizens considered to be equal 243 years after our country was formed?  Why is sexual preference or skin color or gender even relevant where equal rights are concerned?  I suppose I tick most of the boxes that would have included me in the original narrow meaning of Jefferson's words, but I do play the harp.  Should I be denied equal rights because I'm not a bugle player?  You can't tell I am a harp player just by looking at me, and it doesn't come up in conversation that much.  I do have callouses on my fingers from plucking the strings, but most people couldn't distinguish them from guitar callouses.  And everyone loves guitar players.  How is that less absurd than refusing equal rights to LGBTQ people or people who are not white or male or people who love cats instead of dogs?

I will admit it took me a while to wrap my head around the phrase 'gay marriage'.  I suppose I was being pedantic.  I didn't object to the concept of official lifelong commitment between any two people.  It was more that political correctness has done a number of disservices, one of which is diluting language.  When words lose their meanings it is harder to communicate, which leads to lack of meaningful communication, which leads to some very bad situations from domestic spats to major wars.  But the core of marriage is a formal commitment to another person, for better or for worse, as they say.  So I have come around to accepting the new meaning.

After all, language evolves.  The people who write our dictionaries know this.  It's what keeps them in business, because if language didn't evolve we would never need new dictionaries, and all the lexicographers would have to find something different to do, 

A press release from the Governor's office one week ago said, "In 2015, the Governor enacted regulations that protected all transgender individuals under the State's Human Rights Law, confirming to and all public and private employers, housing providers, businesses, creditors and others that discrimination against transgender individuals is unlawful and those who do not follow the law will be held accountable in New York State."

So it took 239 years for most humans to be considered equal in the fifth most liberal state in the nation?  Insurance, survivor benefits, the right to visit a dying loved one in a hospital, equal pay for equal work... how come everyone can't be eligible for these things?

And equal pay for harpists?  According to one study 57 percent of full-time professional harpists make less than $30,000 per year.  Not a lot considering that Celtic (levers, but no pedals) harps go for about $6,000 and concert harps range between around $12,000 and $30,000, more or less, not to mention the cost of lessons, rehearsal, transportation, strings (they are more expensive than you'd think)...  So yes, you can buy a harp for less than you will make playing it in a year.  Sorry, I got carried away. This is supposed to be about equal rights.  OK, I'm done -- back to equal rights...

Also, how come in 2019 50.8 percent or people in the US are still treated as a minority?  Yes, I mean women -- they outnumber men in our country.

The idea that we need a women's rights movement in the 21st century, close to two and a half centuries after the formation of the United States... or an LGBTQ movement or any kind of equal rights movement is a sad commentary on how we generally view America versus how America really is.

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