We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.
–The United States Declaration of Independence
As the U.S. begins to celebrate its 237th year as a sovereign nation later this week, the American people are reminded why America is the “Land of the free and the home of the brave.” Last week, freedom became the common denominator in the big stories around Washington. In honor of the 4th of July and our freedoms, we’re highlighting the top headlines on Capitol Hill.
Immigration Reform Passes the Senate
In January, the “Gang of Eight” senators (four Democrats and four Republicans) joined together for a bipartisan immigration reform bill. The U.S. senate passed the bill, which creates a 13-year path to citizenship for roughly 11 million undocumented residents and increases border security, by a 68-32 vote.
While the bill lies in the hands of the House of Representatives, the Senate passing this piece of legislation is an important milestone for the millions of undocumented residents who could gain a path to American citizenship as a result of this bill. The beauty of America is it’s a land that not only welcomes people from other nations, but was built completely on immigration.
“Unlike other countries, we are not afraid of people coming in here from other places,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R). “I support this reform. Not just because I believe in immigrants, but because I believe in America even more.”
The immigration reform can remove the glass wall that stands between many American residents and the American freedom the country will celebrate later this week.
Supreme Court Moves towards Equality
As the LGBT community and their supporters came together to celebrate Pride in major U.S. cities this weekend, they had a little more to celebrate than in years past. The Supreme Court ruled (5-4) Wednesday that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the Constitution, specifically citing the Fifth Amendment and Due Process. Since President Bill Clinton signed the Act in 1996, DOMA has been the law of the land; however, 14 states have managed to legalize same-sex marriage at the state level without federal interference.
California, which had legalized same-sex marriage for one month in 2004 and for four months in 2008, used DOMA and Proposition 22 to defend Proposition 8 (which banned same-sex marriage) and argue that same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. After the Supreme Court handed down their decision Wednesday, California courts began granting same-sex marriage licenses on Friday. Although Proposition 8 supporters tried to reenact the ban, court houses in San Francisco, which was also hosting the Pride parade, designated weekend hours so that couples who wanted to practice their right to marry could.
As hip-hop artist and LGBT rights supporter, Macklemore raps in his song, “Same Love,” in America, “there’s no freedom ‘til we’re equal.” While not every state has legalized same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court has set the country on the path toward equality (and, freedom).
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://wpmaster.sjadv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2013/02/Cassandra-Bremer-Our-Space-Photo-e1402061863316.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Cassandra is a Content Manager and Developer at SJG. She earned her BA from Fontbonne University in 2011. Outside the office, she enjoys an active, healthy and well-rounded lifestyle including reading, writing, running, golfing, watching films, listening to music, taking photographs, and consuming media and social media.[/author_info] [/author]