It looks as if prejudice just might exist forever in Ohio in one form or another. A recent groundbreaking court decision in Vermont has given civil and gay rights activists much to applaud, while giving some Ohio legislators much to fear.In the case of Baker vs. State of Vermont, the Vermont Supreme Court granted same-sex couples common benefits and protections under the state’s marriage laws. This should be seen as a victory for human rights. However, many people have viewed this decision as a threat to the American way of life. A collection of Ohio senators, worried that the precedent set by the case could soon spread to Ohio and threaten our “normal” way of life, have announced plans to introduce legislation that would prohibit same-sex marriages in Ohio. Versions of the proposed bill, commonly referred to as the Defense of Marriage Act, are popping up in state legislatures all over the country, showing how vehemently homophobic the United States really is.If passed, the marriage act would deny legal recognition of same-sex marriages in Ohio, thus denying homosexual couples many basic legal rights.Supporters of this bill feel it is needed to protect the family values of Ohioans. However, this bill is nothing short of a major civil rights violation and should be thrown out of consideration immediately.By denying homosexuals access to a civil marriage license, the law effectively excludes them from a broad array of legal benefits and protections provided with marital relation. Ohio state law guarantees the right to adopt and raise children regardless of the sex of the parents. However, if not recognized as a legal married couple, same-sex partners – and their children – are denied the same security as opposite-sex spouses.What is most ironic and disappointing is that the majority of opposition toward the Vermont ruling has risen in state legislatures, showing that intelligence is not necessarily a guard against ignorance.It is completely un-American that such legislation is even permitted to be presented before the Ohio Senate. The United States was founded upon principles of freedom of choice and belief. Legislators, as the inheritors of a legal system that was created to get away from dictatorial or discriminatory rule, are responsible for making sure government does not violate the basic human rights given to us by both the state and U.S. constitutions. The Defense of Marriage Act is a violation of our rights as American citizens, and it is sad that our state government is actually considering such a bill.The opposition to same-sex marriage is based on ignorance and untrue stereotypes about homosexuals, and it is important to consider them all. First, many people believe same-sex marriages are wrong based on the stereotypes that gays are promiscuous, unable to form lasting relationships and that the relationships that do form are shallow and uncommitted.However, such relationships exist just as commonly in the straight society, and yet straight marriages are legal. To ban gay partnerships for being no different from straight partnerships illustrates one thing: prejudice.Other opposition to same-sex marriages is based on the accepted definitions of marriage.Some opponents of homosexual marriages feel they are wrong because it is defined that marriage is intended for procreation, which cannot occur between members of the same sex. However, when considering this country’s problems with overpopulation and the anarchy that results from it, it becomes clear that maybe procreation should not be the centerpoint of a marital institution. Instead, perhaps what we need is more same-sex couples willing to adopt the thousands of parentless children in this country without having children of their own.Also, there are those who believe that a homosexual couple cannot provide a good environment for children. Despite this belief, many scientific studies have shown that outcomes of children raised in homes of gay and lesbian couples are just as good as those of straight couples. Although most admit that this unequal treatment is discrimination, many people think homosexuals deserve discrimination based on the assumption that gays have a choice in who they can be attracted to. In other words, there are those who believe that gays could avoid the discrimination placed upon them by simply choosing to be heterosexual.It is time for people to realize that human beings have no more of a choice over their sexual orientation then they have over their skin color or sex. To assume that homosexuals could avoid homophobia if they simply chose to be straight is no more realistic than assuming that blacks could avoid racism if they just chose to be white, or that women could avoid sexism if they just chose to be men. To deny a person equal rights based on a characteristic that they have no control over, such as race, gender or sexual orientation, is morally wrong.This country’s opposition to the Vermont ruling and the expanding presence of Defense of Marriage Acts in state legislatures all over the United States shows that we as Americans continue to ignore the basis of our way of life. Everyone in this country, regardless of who they are, deserves the same protection and liberties given by the U.S. Constitution.Ohio’s proposed Defense of Marriage Act is a blatant violation of our human civil rights. To allow this legislation to continue is illegal and un-American.