Separate rules are not equal

In 1954, in a unanimous Supreme Court decision on Brown v. the Topeka Board of Education, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote, “To separate (some children) from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.”

The court went on to declare that separation in public education is inherently unequal and that segregation is a denial of the equal protection of the laws. In the case of those who believe that “everything but marriage” in civil unions should satisfy those in the gay and lesbian community, I ask you to insert the words “sexual orientation” in this declaration of justice by our courts more than 50 years ago.

Every citizen deserves the right to be treated equally under the laws of this land. That equality includes the choice to marry. Our Legislature witnessed to that sense of justice in its recent legalization of gay marriage. To have to live “separately but equally” under domestic partnership laws is inherently a form of discrimination. Frankly, I feel blessed to live in a state that would treat each citizen with fairness and allow every child to grow up without stigma and with equal opportunity.

Joan Smith