Our Generation's Defining Struggle

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Regretfully, for all of its freedom, liberties, and economic opportunities, America's blood has been poisoned by hypocrisy since the time of our nation's conception.

Slavery was our first cancer. It is our original sin. And although slavery was never mentioned directly in the Constitution, the three-fifths compromise sticks out like a tumor on that otherwise exemplary document.

The English language lacks the words sufficient to describe the moral consequences of that egregious error. Because of slavery our nation split in two, blood was shed, families were separated, children were murdered, and millions of people were subjected to centuries of discrimination.

It has taken more than just time to reach our current level of racial tolerance. It has taken brave souls spanning generations, first to plant the seeds of equality, and then to protest, march, and fearlessly fight for what is right.

The early baby boomers, those who protested, marched and fought for equality, rose to accept their historic challenge. Now it is time for our generation to face ours.

Whether we like it or not, the fight for gay rights will be our struggle. Gay rights, not just the legal institution of marriage, but indeed rights, is what we must fight for. It will be our contribution to a more perfect union, and the measure by which we will be judged by generations to come. They will thank us, just as we thank our parents for what they were able to accomplish in their time.

Though equal rights and social acceptance is the main goal in this fight, the first steps to achieving it will be the national legalization of gay marriage, and the repeal of DOMA and "don't ask, don't tell." Unfortunately, based on the ballot measures we voted down last November, we have a long way to go.

On the day our nation elected its first black president, three states, California, Florida and Arizona passed ballot measures that banned gay marriage in their states. According to the New York Times, in some instances, minority voters themselves were the ones who put these ballot measures over the top. The irony of this would be hilarious if it were not so sickening.

No matter how important marriage equality is, it is just a small first step to a larger goal: to create a society in which gay men and women are not only accepted legally, but are also accepted socially and treated as equals in all circles; a society that accepts a person with the courage to "come out" and accept his own sexuality; a society where the word "fag" fills us with as much revulsion as the word "nigger" does today. The ultimate goal is to create a society where people are judged not by their sexual identity but by the content of their character.

Does some of this sound a little improbable, even to me? Admittedly, it does. But I am absolutely sure that this sounds less crazy now than the idea of a black president sounded just forty short years ago.

If this movement is to make progress, it needs a strong group of respected, unified leaders who treat this cause for what it is -- a matter of civil rights. It also needs the support of the millions of Americans who believe in gay rights, but who are currently too timid to speak up about this issue.

So, fellow Millennials, Generation X, Y and Z-ers, it's up to us. Are we ready to rise to the challenge of our generation's defining struggle?