A voice for people who need to be heard

Casey Brown

Casey Brown
A&E Editor
@CaseyBrown_CU

I am a writer because I want to use my voice to speak up for people who don’t have as loud a voice as those in the majority.

More specifically I am curious to find out how many fewer rights I have than others.

In a couple of categories I am in the majority: I am cisgender (someone whose gender identity matches his or her biological sex), and I am white. However, in many other categories I am in the
minority: I am bisexual, I am an atheist, I am a woman, I am unmarried and I have a mental illness.

I frequently wonder how many fewer rights I have than a straight, Christian man. This hypothetical person and I are both U.S. Citizens, and we are both promised the American Dream and equal protection under the fourteenth amendment. How do you think that pans out in the real world?

Since I am in the majority in a couple of places because I am not in the lowest socioeconomic class and I am an educated person, there are people in this country who have even fewer rights and privileges than I do.

If you don’t buy that I have fewer rights than other legal citizens, let’s consider marriage, the second amendment and taxes.

I attended Constitution Day when the speaker, Brady Henderson, said that married people gain approximately 1,400 new rights from state and federal governments.

According to Federal Law 18 U.S.C., Section 922(d), which describes unlawful acts with a firearm, it is illegal for me to own a gun of any kind, no exceptions, because I have been diagnosed with a mental illness and because I have been committed to a psychiatric hospital.

A couple of years ago, I took a tax class at H&R Block. The instructor told us that the best tax category to be in is “Married Filing Jointly,” whereas one of the worst tax categories to be in is “Single.” Meaning, there are fewer tax breaks for single persons than there are for married couples, in most instances.

So, because I don’t believe in marriage as institution and because I have a medical condition I have at least 1,402 fewer rights than a straight, married person who has not been diagnosed with a mental illness — not to mention all of the things I’m missing out on because I’m a woman, an atheist, and not straight.

Last week, I was talking to someone about gun laws. When I mentioned that I can’t own a gun, they asked why. I explained, and they said something along the lines of, “Well that actually sounds like a good idea.” I was quick to point out that the law exists mostly because of irrational fears and prejudices.

Yes, I have Bipolar Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but that does not mean that I am a spree killer. Granted, most of the people who have been involved in school shooting and spree killings do have mental illnesses. Statistically speaking, the percentage of people with mental illnesses who do such things is very low.

Furthermore, if you don’t think being in the minority as an atheist has any negative effect on my life, or on the lives of my fellow atheists, let’s talk about Oklahoman and American culture. Not only is Christianity as a faith institutionalized in this country, but also there are people who have lost jobs because they are not Christian. I know many people who have experience this. Oklahoma isn’t referred to as the “Buckle of the Bible Belt” for nothing. I have no problem with people practicing their faiths, but I do have a problem with the dirty looks and lost opportunities because of mine.

In one case, I am a minority within a minority. As a bisexual person, I have frequently been told that I am greedy, confused or wrong by members of the LGBTQ community.

When all of these factors are added up and I compare myself to the hypothetical person who is in the majority in every category, I can’t help but wonder what more I can do for others. As a writer and a journalist, I have a voice, which means I have power. My goal during my career is to seek out opportunities to speak up for myself and others who need it.

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