So, today is the fourth! Hooray! Happy Birthday, America! As a citizen of the USA, who benefits from many freedoms and other things because I am a citizen, I do love my country. I respect it’s leaders, it’s military, etc. I am glad I live where I live, and all that that entails. But because I am a proud citizen, who only ever wants to see her country do better, I am not afraid to criticize.
So, let’s begin with my favorite topic – gay rights. As I’m sure most people know, if you’re in North America and are gay and want to get married and be protected by anti-discrimination laws, you want to go to Canada. They have both, everywhere. Other places like this are Norway, Sweden, Spain, and South Africa. Places where you can get a similar substitute and protection are Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany. Countries with some type of universal anti-discrimination laws for LGBT+ people include Bolivia, Chile, Poland, Greece, and Venezuela. Countries with some type of marriage or marriage substitute include Australia, Brazil, and Argentina. Now, you may notice that the US doesn’t come up in any of these lists. That’s because in the area of gay rights, we’re kind of behind. Not as far behind as the many African and Middle Eastern countries (and a few in the Caribbean) that do anything from imprison you to kill you if you’re gay, but still behind. As a whole, we have no specific legislation of anti-disrimination for LGBT+ Americans. None at all. Some much for the land of freedom, equality and giving everyone an equal shot at success (it’s hard to think you have an equal shot when you worry about getting fired for being who you are). And of course, we have DOMA, which basically says the federal government does not recognize same sex couples. Now, if you are lucky enough to live in a state with gay marriage or discrimination protection, go you! But not everyone is that lucky, and not everyone can afford to move to where it’s okay. So I love the USA, I just wish that, as a queer female, it respected me as a human a bit more. (Click here to see more info on being gay around the world)
Number 2. Every year, Reporters Without Borders releases it’s “Press Freedom Index” (which can be found here). This index is based on: whether journalists face any type of violence, political pressure, discrimination, or require the use of bodyguards to feel secure; whether the state deported journalists, restricted their access, surveilled journalists, or whether they faced harassment from officials; whether there was any kind of censorship or self-censorship; if there was independent or states controlled media, or both; if the media had legal protections; how the state regulated the internet. Given our whole “freedom of speech, freedom of the press” thing, you’d think the US ranked rather highly right? Wrong. The USA ranked 47th. Leaving us tied with Romania and Argentina. Putting us behind Botswana, Ghana, El Salvador, the UK, Niger, Australia, Japan, Belgium, and countless others. If we want to truly be considered a land of free speech, free press, and freedom in general, we need to do a whole lot better than 47.
In addition, we also rank 47th on the Gender Inequality Index put out by the UN. This puts countries like Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Israel, and Moldova ahead of us in Gender Equality. If we want to be a country that is equal, then we need to be much higher up on this list as well.
So to sum it up, I love my country. I do. And that’s why I write things like this. That’s why I’m eventually going to law school and intend to be a kick ass human rights advocate. I want things to get better. I want us, as a country, to be better. And we can never be better unless we start admitting our faults and working toward fixing them.