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April 09, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-04-09

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4A - Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 1

L7be MICdignan +aU1


Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109


Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
A trend toward tolerance
All states should push for legalization of same-sex marriage
N ovember was a tough month for gay rights in this
country. Despite an election that ushered in a
Democratic Congress and this country's first black
president, states from California to Florida passed ballot
initiatives that curtailed gay rights, especially the right to
same-sex marriage. But in the past week, in Iowa, Vermont
and Washington, D.C., gay rights advocates scored a triple
victory in their fight to end discrimination in this coun-
try. The rest of the states in this country - including our
own state of Michigan - need to recognize the fact that
outlawing same-sex marriage is discriminatory, backward
and, frankly, wrong.

Middle East misiformation




The importance of last week for gay
rights can't be overstated. In three differ-
ent regions of this country, through three
different means, the right to same-sex mar-
riage - the primary goal of many gay rights
activists - was affirmed. On Friday, Iowa's
Supreme Court issued a unanimous deci-
sion to remove a longstanding law against
same-sex marriage. Then, on Tuesday,
the Vermont state legislature overrode a
gubernatorial veto and passed a bill legal-
izing same-sex marriage - the first such
legislation in the country. The same day, the
Washington, D.C. City Council voted to rec-
ognize all same-sex marriages approved in
other states.
The denial of equal rights for same-sex
couples is one of the last vestiges of appar-
ent discrimination against a group of peo-
ple in this country. While other types of
discrimination undoubtedly exist, almost
no other discrimination is so shamelessly
perpetuated by government and codified in
law. Visitation rights for injured partners,
tax benefits and family health care are all
rights denied to same-sex couples simply
because they are gay. Like the Jim Crow
laws that denied blacks some of these same
rights, laws that deny same-sex couples
recognition as equals in our society are bla-
tantly discriminatory.
Though far from completely eliminating
this inequality, last week's developments
made quite a dent and are worth celebrating

in that regard. But they also highlight how
much more needs to be done.
Michigan is one such bastion for discrim-
ination. In 2004, Michigan voters approved
a constitutional amendment banning same-
sex marriage in this state. Since then, Mich-
igan's Attorney General Mike Cox and state
Supreme Court have used that amendment
as a blank check to discriminate against gay
people, incorrectly interpreting the amend-
ment to take away state employees' ability to
receive benefits for their partners. This fla-
grant abuse of power has affected everyone
in the state, including employees at the Uni-
versity of Michigan, who can still receive
benefits for a gay partner only because the
University has stretched the law to find a
In states like Michigan, these discrimi-
natory laws have to go. Though the courts
have typically led the way in this fight (with
Vermont being the lone state in which a
legislature has had the courage to act),
citizens need to be at the forefront of this
movement. In fact, they have an obligation
to do so. When discrimination exists right
beneath one's nose, there's no excuse for
allowing it to continue. When history looks
back on these laws, they will be understood
the same way we now understand the bla-
tantly discriminatory Jim Crow laws.
That's a place in history neither Iowa,
Vermont nor Washington, D.C. want.
Neither should Michigan. Or this country.

n Mar. 22, a ship from a US
naval port in North Carolina
docked at Ashdod, Israel and
unloaded a cargo
of over 300 20-foot
containers laden
with munitions, E
bunker busting
bombs, white phos-
phorus and other
goodies. Never
mind that the
Bush administra- IBRAHIM
tion approved the
shipment one week KAKWAN
before Israel began
its Gaza offensive,
or that Israel has used white phos-
phorus, an incendiary, in civilian
Quite frankly, things like human
rights abuses or the unwavering
American support for Israel are
nothing new or even surprising.
What bothers me about this incident
is the total lack of media coverage it
This news did not turn up on CNN,
NBC, BBC or any of the other usual
sources. Rather, Reuters made a note
of the incident, which I found on the
second page of a Google search.
When the United States claimed
to have discovered suspected Ira-
nian weapons in Iraq, it was all over
the news. The allegations were never
proven, and even though the "evi-
dence" amounted to little more than
a few beaten-up weapons on a table,
the story was everywhere. Even local
news broadcasts had their dumb,
overly made-up anchors circulat-
ing news that Iranian weapons had
been found in Iraq, complete with the
usual mispronunciations.
But if a few broken guns can cause
a stir and penetrate a large percent-
age of the national audience, how is
it that 14,000 tons of heavy weaponry
can go unnoticed?
I am nothinting at any specific bias
in favor of any particular country -
my issue is with the system as a whole.
In the last few months, unmanned

U.S. aircrafts have killed Pakistani
citizens in over 19 unauthorized vio-
lations of Pakistani airspace. This
does not make the evening news, but
we do hear that an obscure Pakistani
group threatened to attack the White
A few months ago, American heli-
copters crossed into Syria, resulting
in more civilian deaths. Again, it was
not given much attention in American
news. And yet somehow we always
heard about alleged Syrian support
for Iraqi insurgents (which was never
My intention is not to criticize
the actions, but rather the reporting.
How can voters make an informed
decision based on such intentionally
partial knowledge?
A few days ago, someone ran-
domly asked me, "So when was the
last time the Palestinians messed
around with Israel? Is Yasser Arafat
dead?" He suggested the Al-Jazeera
English website, and he told me he
was "afraid to go on those websites."
Al-Jazeera is a news station partially
owned by the Qatari government,
the same government that hosts ele-
ments of the U.S. Central Command,
responsible for coordinating military
operations in the Middle East. There-
fore, by association, Al-Jazeera is not
very shady.
This person that I spoke with is
applying to (and has been offered)
positions in governmental agencies.
The scary part is that this person
already had a bias despite a clear lack
of background knowledge. It's also
the bias that this person will bring
when walking into that government
office on the first day of work. But
where did this bias come from?
If our future government workers
are afraid to see another perspec-
tive, then I can only wonder what
thought goes into crafting foreign
policy. Remember that in this lovely
democracy of ours, you only elect
the decision makers. Their advisors,
the people who write the reports on
which their decisions are based, are

And if those whovote feel that they
are constantly under attack, who do
they elect?
I heard a University bus driver
comment to a student that Iranian
president Mahmoud Ahmedinajad
reminded him "of a certain German
painter in the '30's" - an obvious
Hitler reference. When asked by the
student to support his statement, he
could not.
How biases in
American news
mislead the public.
If the driver had been able to sup-
port his statement, even though I
disagree, it would have represented
an opinion reached based on his own
assessment of facts. But'it turned out
to be nothing more than overly dra-
matic dribble, likely based on a con-
clusion already reached for him by
some newscaster.
A quick Google search of recent
news headlines containing the word
"Iran" is fraught with negative refer-
ences from American media outlets.
Only a couple articles from UK-based
Reuters and an Arab media company
discuss neutral economic issues and
do not point fingers at the country.
If, after probing just a little bit into
both sides of an issue, someone still
wants to bomb Iran, support Israel
or fly drones into Pakistan, that's
fine. But they should at least have the
opportunity to formulate that opin-
ion on their own, after hearing from
both sides.
But in a place where 14,000-ton
arms shipments do not merit coverage,
many are not given that opportunity.
- Ibrahim Kakwan can be
reached at ijameel@umich.edu.

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca,
Satyajeet Deshmukh, Brian Flaherty, Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke,
Sutha K Kanagasingam, Shannon Kellman, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee,
Matthew Shutler, Neil Tambe, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder
Safe and concealed

Corn-fed equality

Whether the news of the day is a mass shoot-
ing or a fugitive's battle with police, this has
been a violent two weeks for America. Even in
Ann Arbor, there was a DPS crime alert about
the assault of a female student by an unknown
young male. Of course, we all remember hor-
rific incidents of violence at universities, like
the Virginia Tech massacre that occurred two
years ago next week. This crime was exactly the
sort of attack the annual "Take Back the Night"
rally intends to prevent.
All of these terrible occurrences show two
grim truths. First, bad things can happen any-
where, at any time, to any one of us. The sec-
ond is that we are responsible for our own
safety. The young woman who was attacked
makes this clear as she struggled and broke
free from her assailant. DPS and the Ann Arbor
Police Department cannot be everywhere at all
Improving personal safety requires proac-
tive steps like being aware of one's surround-
ings and staying in well-lit areas. But despite all
the precautions a person might observe, crimes
will still be committed. In these situations,
forceful self-defense becomes necessary. The
trouble with self-defense is that college stu-
dents are often denied a highly effective tool
of self-defense: a concealed handgun. Suppose
the girl who was assaulted wasn't strong or for-
tunate enough to break free. If she was walk-
ing to or from campus, she was denied the right
to use the best tool of self-defense because of
state and University laws that make it a crime
for licensed gun owners to carry a concealed
handgun on campus. University policy also
imposes serious academic penalties. To present
an even worse situation, suppose there was a
mass shooting on campus. Because of misguid-
ed laws and policies, those who would other-
wise have been prepared to defend themselves
would be left unarmed and helpless.

Students for Concealed Carry on Campus is a
student organization working with universities
and state legislatures to allow students at pub-
lic universities who are licensed in accordance
with state law the ability to carry a concealed
pistol. The organization has 38,000 members
across the country, and the majority of the
members are students and faculty. The group
has successfully introduced legislation in mul-
tiple states and is continuing to grow since its
founding after the Virginia Tech massacre in
Allowing the concealed carry of pistols on
campus is not about arming every single col-
lege student, as many of the group's detractors
believe. The fact is, students are already armed.
Essentially anyone who is over 21, has no crim-
inal background and is mentally healthy can
qualify to obtain a Michigan Concealed Pistol
License. Many students have CPLs and own
firearms, and frequently carry all over Ann
Arbor. Statistically, these CPL - holding stu-
dents are among the most law-abiding segments
of the population. Unlike what many naysayers
believed when CPLs were first instituted, small
arguments haven't become firefights, nor have
police accidentally shot CPL holders when they
arrive on scene. In addition, ifa license-holder
is forced to draw a pistol in self-defense, they
are at least as likely to avoid hitting innocent
bystanders as most police forces. The only dif-
ference between Ann Arbor and the Univer-
sity campus in terms of carrying handguns is
an invisible legal line, which neither deters
criminals nor turns law-abiding students into
irresponsible armed drunks. RCockedemoving
this line would make the campus much safer
than people imagine it to be at the moment by
allowing students to exercise their right to self-
Julian Lizzio is an LSA senior.

C onnecticut and Massachu-
setts, in all their liberal glory,
bewildered few when they
legalized same-sex
marriage. The rest
of the country prac-
tically expected it
of them. California,
too, was met with a
collective, sarcastic
"surprise, surprise""
when they began
issuing marriage MATTHEW
licenses to gay and
lesbian couples in GREEN
May 2008. Even
Vermont's legisla-
tive stride toward marital equality
this week was a longtime coming. But
at a time when states like Michigan
and Pennsylvania maintain bans on
gay marriage - and even California's
marriage policy is in legal flux - few
expected that the American gay com-
munity would have friends in Iowa.
Last Friday, the Iowa Supreme
Court upheld a District Court ruling
that same-sex couples should have no
legal barriers to marriage. Even more
surprisingly, all seven state Supreme
Court justices voted unanimously to
uphold the ruling. In similar court
cases in Connecticut and Massa-
chusetts, the justices were split 4-3.
Thus, on Apr. 3, in a historically
overwhelming legal decision, Iowa
became the only Midwestern state
to repeal constitutional or statutory
bans on gay marriage.
Politically speaking, that fact
shouldn't actually be so surprising.
Democrats outnumber Republicans
in both the state government and in
Iowa's delegation in Washington.
And during the season of presiden-
tial primaries, it was Iowa's sheer
progressivism that led to President
Barack Obama's caucus victory and
the momentum that carried him
through to the general election.

Admittedly, it seems alittle odd that
a gay couple is more legally entitled
in Des Moines than in, say, San Fran-
cisco, but Iowa's ruling is a great leap
in the right direction. Apart from the
three states that allow gay marriage
outright, only 12 states recognize or
permit same-sex civil unions - and
in the other 35, homosexuals who
want to marry their life-partners are
treated as second-class citizens.
California moved in a reverse
direction last November when it
passed Proposition 8, stripping LGBT
Californians of their right to marry.
The legality of that debate is current-
ly being argued before the California
Supreme Court, but the fact that the
initiative even passed is a testament
to the hatemongering of religious
zealots and a handful of ignorant oth-
According to CNN, 75 percent of
Americans believe LGBT individuals
should be entitled to equal rights for
housing, employment and protection
of the law. But despite this overall
tolerance, 55 percent still oppose gay
marriage. Some of that majority says
marriage is defined between a man
and a woman - a definition steeped
in antiquated Christian thought.
Sure, the United States is a nation
founded on many Christian princi-
ples, but what has set America apart
is its commitment toward separating
the Bible from the Constitution.
Moreover, what has really killed
the traditional definition of marriage
is the enormous divorce rate of Amer-
ican couples - which is somewhere
between 30 and 50 percent. Even if
all committed same-sex couples got
married, at 4 percent of the popula-
tion, gays don't pose as big a threat to
marriage as divorce.
Other opponents say the point of
marriage is to raise children, sug-
gesting that same-sex households are
unfit for child rearing. But the proper

reaction should be: "Gee, thank you,
gays and lesbians, for adopting the
children we don't want, loving them
and taking the burden off the govern-
ment." To be sure, growing up with
two moms or dads may not be normal
for children who developmentally
crave to be like everyone else, but it's
a lot better than growing up with-
out anyone. In order for children to
grow into normal, emotionally strong
adults, they don't need the conven-
tional father and mother. All they
Why gay marriage0
in Iowa is an
essential step.
need is to be raised by parents who
shower them with love. More than
other parents, gay and lesbian parents
can understand that because in order
for them to come out of the closet,
they needed tobe surrounded by love,
too. Here and across the board, oppo-
nents to gay marriage seem to ignore
that they are merely fighting love.
Iowa's recent stand should be a sig-
nal to the California Supreme Court
that change is imminent and vital,
illuminating that the only apparent
"abomination" was the language and
premise of Proposition 8. And most
importantly, the ruling should act as a
sort of refresh button for the national
perspective on gay rights. Just as Iowa
gave Obamathe needed momentumto
win the Democratic nomination, the
state's support of gay rights will hope-
fully stimulate a new tolerance that
finally grants much-overdue equal
- Matthew Green can be reached
at greenmat@umich.edu.

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