^ equal rights for all is not only a South Dakota value

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Pursuant to authority directed in Title 9 of the nation’s Civil Rights acts, President Obama has directed the nation’s schools to enforce the civil rights of transgender students. We applaud his taking this action.

The Directive Order can be read here :

By his order, schools are directed to assure transgender students full access to the bathrooms and locker rooms that accord with their gender identity, the lives they actually lead.

What he has ordered enforced, we in Massachusetts already do, successfully, pursuant to regulations issued by the Commissioner of Education in keeping with the Civil Rights Act adopted here in 2011. It is a shame that in many other states a Presidential order is needed; but such is the case. Without his order, the rights of transgender students would depend on which state they live in. It is exactly that sort of outcome that 148 years of Federal civil rights laws have determined to prevent. It is basic to our nation that the civil rights accorded to all be the same no matter where we live. All really does mean all.

Too many times Americans have had to fight, even die, to assure this principle fundamental to our nation. I do not get why there is opposition. In what way does the civil rights of a person impede those of another person ? They do not impede it.

I was very young when, in the 1960s, thousands of Americans risked assault and even death in  order to assure voting rights in every state. Opposition was violent. Anyone who thought that the full rights of African Americans was assured once and for all by the Civil War and Reconstruction’s laws found out that that battle had to be fought all ovce4r again. It was. And victory went to the side of civil rights for all.

Yet it is one thing to establish the law, another to change minds. Today we see that the minds of the South continue unchanged : and not only in the South., Despite that civil rights for all is our nation’s foundation principle, many Americans don’t approve. I wonder what they do approve. What do they think America is ? Rights only for some ?

Too many Americans think that civil rights should be accorded on;y to people whom we approve of. As if we have a right to judge them. But that is NOT our national principle. Our principle is that everybody has the same basic civil rights; our approval of the persons is irrelevant to the rights all people possess.

Our Constitution and the laws enacted pursuant to it, as amended, was established to assure that basic national principle be uniformly operative throughout. As the Preamble states : “to promote the general Welfare.” it does NOT say “to promote the welfare only of those we approve of.” That this is so is why I often assert that objectors who cite the Constitution as a source are in fact opposed to the Constitution rather than supportive of it.

All of the above I adduce for one chief reason : to show that the order issued by President Obama, to assure the civil rights of transgender students, is not only well within his powers (pursuant to Article II of the Constitution) but is, in fact, his duty, legally and morally, to do. He has now done it. All Americans of good will should applaud him. Transgender kids in  particular should thank him. Their lives will be safer and surer, bolstered by the law and thus by the common sentiment of the entire community — a force far more powerful than the fears and discomforts of a few.

The President’s order is far from final victory. Some states are pushing for laws preventing people from amending the male or female check box on their birth certificate. Others are passing laws specifically ordering discrimination against transgender people. All such bills are utterly un-Constitutional, but it will take years to litigate them (and even then hard-line resistors will continue to erect barriers), and in the meantime transgender people will be at severe risk from bullies and haters who deny the very existence of transgender.

The fight for our nation’s foundation principle goes on.

—- Mike Freedbereg / Here and Sphere