Human rights should not be political

Political partisanship should not decide the welfare of society


Fibonacci Blue via Creative Commons

LEGAL BATTLE — A protestor stands outside the Minnesota Senate chamber, urging for the legalization of gay marriage. Gay marriage is major example of when legislators have taken an excessively long time to grant basic rights because of different political ideologies.

Mackenzie Chen, Online Opinions Editor

Many proponents around the world rejoiced in 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled that all fifty American states, the District of Columbia, and the Insular Areas had to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples in Obergefell vs. Hodges. To celebrate the monumental decision, people threw parades and displayed the rainbow flag, including the White House. However, this historical event also begs an important question: why did it take so long for the United States to guarantee the fundamental right of marriages for all communities of people?

In truth, our society has become a glittering facade, defined more by our empty promises rather than our meaningful actions in improving the world. Even in the 21st century, an age heralded for its modernism and innovation, there are still impoverished individuals unable to support themselves in a system that is rigged against them.

“In 1954, the earliest year for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics has consistent unemployment data by race, the White rate averaged 5% and the Black rate averaged 9.9%,” said Drew DeSilver, in an article for the Pew Research Center. “Over time, the unemployment rate for Blacks has averaged about 2.2 times that for Whites.”

Instead of helping them, legislators and lawmakers have dissolved into petty political “competition” designed just to further their own party’s agenda.

Human rights, like resources for the poor, should not be used as a political pawn to increase the standing of a party. How can we call ourselves the engineers of freedom and equality when our government uses basic privileges as a political pawn, and lawmakers fight about guaranteeing even the most simple rights?

The Trump administration, for instance, reversed the Obama-era rule that covers gender identity in the Affordable Care Act. This action, once again, displays that politicians prioritize pushing their party’s ideologies ahead over giving everyone access to a medical provider no matter their identity or background.

The petty squabbles that have come to characterize some of the most prestigious symbols of the United States government go completely against American values. We founded this country on the basis that everyone deserves the opportunity to carve out their own life, regardless of identity. Yet, today, we see so many alarming disparities in society, especially amongst minority communities.

“If you’re a person of color, particularly Black or Latino, you’re more likely to live near toxic facilities,” said Dr. Beverly Wright, CEO of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University. “[You’re also] less likely to receive adequate protection to prevent disasters and less likely to get the kind of immediate response White communities get when emergencies occur.”

From experiencing the effects of climate change to struggling to live off underwhelming wages, people of color and many other underrepresented groups are the ones who suffer at the hands of the unnecessary and excessive human rights debates in Congress. It is ironic how in America, a country seemingly built on the idea of universal rights and personal freedom, policymakers still need to discuss whether or not members of the LGBTQ+ community can have access to healthcare like everyone else.

In fact, it is evident that politicians have no right to deny people of basic rights based on their background or identity. They are public servants; their responsibilities are to assist the underprivileged and the oppressed, not suppress them through censorship or strip them of their deserved privileges. When they took an oath to take on their position, they promised to protect their constituents and not turn a blind eye when they are attacked on a morning jog because of the color of their skin. Unfortunately, yet unsurprisingly, communities are still plagued by the inaction of their representatives who are all bark and no bite.

What will it look like to the rest of the world when America is struggling to grant basic rights to LGBTQ+ communities, people of color, and other minorities? The country must set a precedent to show that everyone deserves respect and happiness, no matter their origins.

People are entitled to their political opinions; that is what America is built on. However, America is also built upon the idea that everyone deserves a chance to succeed without being the victim of government and social oppression. When human rights are involved, there should be no battle between parties to maintain dominance; rather, it should be an opportunity for parties to unite to protect their voters. Pushing political ideologies has no value when it comes to ensuring that everyone can have access to basic healthcare and other necessary rights.