Where once it was culturally unacceptable to be involved in a homosexual lifestyle, today it is celebrated in certain circles and viewed as a viable family alternative in others.
Gay Rights is a term we have all heard and read about, but what does it mean?
If it means that those involved in a gay lifestyle are no longer subjected to laws that forbade this lifestyle then the rights have already been extended.
Many would argue that Gay Rights is much more complicated than that.
Some homosexual lobbyists are pursuing and sometimes winning a very specific argument in state governing bodies and in the corporate world. The argument is that gay couples should be extended insurance privileges in the same way traditional marriages receive.
Public schools often have books dealing with alternate lifestyles (including homosexuality) on their library shelves.
Gay Pride parades are featured in cities throughout the world.
It would seem that the rights of homosexuals are being improved with each passing day. In Massachusetts, gay marriage is recognized while a handful of other states recognize civil unions among same-sex couples.
There are even a growing number of churches that will perform and recognize same-sex civil unions. Some denominations have also accepted gay clergy.
Some African Americans have been vocally opposed to comparing Gay Rights with Civil Rights. The feeling among some is that African Americans were born with their skin color while many consider homosexuality to be a choice.
There has been an argument that there may be a gay gene that makes it almost impossible for a gay or lesbian individual to act different. This runs contrary to reports that indicate there may be a gene that may make an individual more susceptible to becoming homosexual, but the choice remains with the individual unlike a choice of skin tone in African Americans. If there is a choice in one scenario and no choice in the other then some cannot bring themselves to view these two movements in the same light.
Another area of contention is hate crimes bills that are discussed in the courts as well as on the floor of the senate and congress. The idea is to enforce a more severe penalty for crimes that are considered motivated by hatred. While this is not limited to homosexuals it is inclusive of crimes committed against this sector of society.
Proponents indicate this will serve as a deterrent to those who may have considered violence against a gay or lesbian individual. Opponents of hate crimes legislation indicate that this only leads to someone trying to interpret the motives behind an act of violence. They also believe that harsh penalties are already in place to deal with violent crimes without the need for additional penalties that may be viewed as entirely subjective.
Some might further argue that the gay community will not be content to settle for equal rights, they will push for protected or elevated rights. Those who espouse this argument believe that the protected status may actually result in a lessening of rights for heterosexual citizens.
The many layers of this argument are debated both publicly and behind closed doors and the debate is bound to continue as each individual comes to terms with their own belief system and how this issue fits within that point of view.