The story of the African American struggle after the Emancipation Declaration is quite significant in the current occurrences in the United States. One issue that has mirrored the struggle of the freed slaves has been the struggle of the gay community for acceptance in the military and to enjoy marriage rights just as the heterosexual couples. While there are similarities between these two historical happenings as both sought to have equal rights, privileges and treatment just like other citizens of the land, there are also some quite significant differences between the two.
While the gay community has been struggling to have protection rights and recognition in the military, the freed slaves were happily recruited in the military but were never extended the privileges of having legal marriages (Berlin, Reidy & Rowland, 1982). Policies that have been adopted by the military over the years have been quite discriminating against the gay community and those serving in its ranks. At some point, the homosexuals were entirely banned from joining the military. And although the gay rights movement has struggled to have their members join the military, the war is far from over.
Just as was experienced by the freed slaves in the military who were never extended the rights to vote and legally marry, the gay community still suffers discrimination and lack recognition in the military. This is coupled with lack of laws to recognize their marriages. Outside the military, the other comparison between these two struggles has to be in the social and political spheres. While the freed slaves were concerned with lack of political and social rights which they could not enjoy, the gay community problems have been even worse. The current federal laws do not any bit recognize gay people let alone their marriages.
The law therefore does not simply prohibit but perpetuate discrimination in all fronts (Nguyen, 1999). Just as was the case during the struggle by the free slaves to enjoy equal social and political rights which were prohibited by laws, the law again has been used to discriminate against sexual orientation. In conclusion, the two struggles are more similar than different and the only difference is probably the historical times of their occurrence. Common in both of them is the inherent intolerance of minorities in our culture. Laws are erected on the way to justify our convictions against people or practices we do not like.
Nevertheless, just as the struggle of the African American, the gay community may triumph someday. References Berlin, I. Reidy, J. & Rowland, L. S. eds (1982). Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867, Series 2, Vol. 1, The Black Military Experience, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. Nguyen, M. T. (1999). Civil Rights – the History of Gay Rights. Retrieved on August 9, 2010, from http://webcache. googleusercontent. com/search? q=cache:er-MHl1Bb6sJ:www. enderminh. com/minh/civilrights. aspx+struggles+of+gay+community+to+be+accepted+in+the+military&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ke&client=firefox-a