LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Everyone is worthy of respect, equal rights

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A black minister from Kirkland has recently been quoted widely saying that you can't equate the current struggle for gay marriage with the black struggle for civil rights in the 1960s. He says gays are "uncomfortable," not "persecuted."

Frankly, I think he is the one who is uncomfortable, especially considering the marriage equality law passed in Olympia. (I appreciate Maureen Walsh for your brave vote!)

Nonetheless, I have to ask: How much do you have to suffer to deserve equal rights? And who gets to decide if you've suffered enough? More interestingly, how does he explain the wide-ranging civil rights long enjoyed by rich, straight, white men?

While black Americans suffered horribly for centuries - and continue to face prejudice, discrimination and economic inequality - that does not erase what gays have suffered. Gays and lesbians have been beaten and killed all over the United States and the world. They have been denied jobs and homes. And, while blacks can run to the bosom of their families and churches to temporarily escape persecution, gays cannot count on that. Many gay men and women have been rejected and scorned by their friends, families and churches, and have taken their own lives in despair.

I think they have suffered enough.

Why does that minister think the straight community gets to define the meaning of marriage? Or that the black community gets to define the meaning of civil rights or persecution? Why can't there be multiple meanings, as with so many words?

This is not a battle over definitions. It's not a race to see who has suffered the most. We are talking about human beings and human rights. Everyone is worthy of dignity, respect and equal rights; these are their unalienable rights endowed by God. No one should have to suffer to get what is rightfully theirs.

Annie Capestany

Walla Walla

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