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Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons

Posted: May 27, 2009 05:25 PM

It Is Not A Matter of If, But Only A Matter of When


It is remarkable that it took only one day for our beautiful country to show its greatest potential and its greatest challenge. And that day was Tuesday. In the morning, I was inspired by the President's nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor for a seat on the Supreme Court. Yet, in the afternoon I was deeply saddened by the decision made by the California Supreme Court upholding Proposition 8.

It pains me that we have come to a point in this country where we use the ballot box to address the civil rights of our people. If President Johnson had to take a vote, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would not have passed. If Congress took a vote in 1920, women may still not have the right to vote today. And if President Lincoln went to the polls, blacks would definitely have endured many more years of slavery. We trusted our government to make the right decision and protect the minority, and yesterday we, as a nation, failed.

Unfortunately, most of the arguments against these monumental advancements of our country's history have been deeply rooted in religion; and in my opinion the misuse of religion. Let's remove religion from this discussion, and focus on the greatest gift religion has given all of us, the ability to love. And as an African-American, I urge my own people to take a deep look at our own struggles and not wish them upon anyone else. Simply, civil rights for all is about being connected as humans, united, tolerant, loving and brave.

We have come such a long way in this country. Let's us not stop now. Vermont and Maine have done the right thing by legalizing same sex marriage, and I am extremely supportive of my own Governor, David Paterson, to follow suit in New York.

In my heart, I know that marriage equality for every human being isn't a question of if, but only a matter of when. I ask those who feel that giving freedom to others somehow binds you, to please take a good look at what you are standing behind.  It is only through opening your hearts will you be able to see that by promoting freedom for all, you are unchaining yourself.  I guess I'm an optimist. I have faith in people and our government ultimately to do the right thing. And to my brothers and sisters in California, I'm there with you every step of the way until that day comes...