Thursday, September 22, 2011

Justice Served?

I really hoped I wouldn't have to write this post.

It's amazing how American can uplift one day and completely destroy the next. Wednesday night, at 11:08 p.m., Roy Davis was executed via lethal injection for a crime he may not have committed.

There are several inconsistencies in the case which led to Davis' conviction. According to his attorneys, seven of the nine witnesses who testified against Troy later recanted parts of their stories in regards to the 1989 slaying of an off-duty police officer. Officials repeatedly denied Davis' appeal for a polygraph test, and the case made it's way all the way to the Supreme Court, while supporters considered going so far as to ask President Obama to intervene. The case has drawn attention in Europe as well, where human rights groups called the death sentence a tragedy and an injustice. Despite a last minute four hour delay while the Supreme Court reviewed a stay request and support from three House Democrats, attorneys and activists were unable to stop the killing.

While the specifics of the case are unnerving, I'm just as concerned with the fact that the United States still uses capital punishment as a viable means of justice. There is no justice in pretending to be God, there is only arrogance and error. Whether guilty or not, no person deserves to be deliberately murdered at the hands of the government. No one on earth should have the power to determine whether someone lives or dies. At this point, sadly, it doesn't matter whether Troy Davis was guilty or innocent. What matters is that he was a human being, and because our country still utilizes a barbaric and outdated form of punishment, I now have to write about him in the past tense.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Celebration of Progress

Congratulations, America! At 12:01 this morning the repeal of the infamous 1993 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Law went into affect, thereby freeing homosexuals in the military to live openly and honestly while serving the country they are willing to die for.

Despite continuing opposition from some members of Congress, top Pentagon officials have confirmed that the change in policy will have no affect on the ability of the military to fight wars or defend our nation. In anticipation of the repeal, 97% of the military has been trained to incorporate the changes.

Gay rights activists organized celebrations across the country, and gay Navy Lt. Gary Ross married his partner in a Vermont ceremony just minutes after the repeal became official. Other soldiers celebrated by officially coming out, with the official launch of a military magazine titled "OutServe," or, in the case of prominent gay activist Dan Choi, re-enlisting in the armed forces.

Today is a reminder that, while our country isn't perfect, while it has a lot to work on, we are still a country willing to change for the better, a country working towards complete social freedom and equality, a country putting in the work to live up to that old U.S. Army slogan: be all you can be.

I'll close with these two videos about what the repeal means to military members and this quote from President Barack Obama, when he signed the official repeal:  "We are not a nation that says, 'don't ask, don't tell.' We are a nation that says, 'Out of many, we are one.'