Apple came out with a Jesus phone last June, the latest innovation threatening to breach the separation between past and future that sci-fi movies set for us during the 20th century.

The Jesus phone, better known as the iPhone, is symbolic of the technological breakthroughs occurring every day worldwide and is specifically a testament to the accomplishments of American businesses and individuals.

The prejudice frothing from the American public, however, is emblematic of the void left in American culture by the lack of progress over the last half-century in moral affairs. Even as technological advances are made at a breath-taking velocity, the ethics of the same community mature at a snail’s pace.

Americans are plagued by myriad worries daily, from private concerns over finances, work and family, to fear of public issues. But one’s own apprehensions should not drive sympathy for others from the mind.

Bigotry is common among the public now. Two years ago February, the U.S. Congress provided a shining example of how little America has progressed, as representatives let the War on Terror and the prevalent stereotypes against Arabs scare them into blocking a deal in which DP World, a company based in the United Arab Emirates, would have taken control of port management businesses in six major U.S. seaports. Surprisingly, it was President Bush who led the fight for the deal, rightly saying that it would send a negative signal to friends and allies if the deal were blocked.

The election thus far is another example of the stunning ignorance of most of the country. That candidates are still judged because of their race, gender, religion or ethnicity is mind-blowing.

Perhaps the most significant area in the current fight for equality is gay marriage. Only a month ago, the New York State Supreme Court ruled in favor of a same-sex couple attempting to collect insurance benefits from Monroe County Community College even though they were married in Canada.

The solution here may not be to rule in favor of this couple, however gratifying it may be in the short run; this would only be a temporary solution. If the U.S. administration sees that same-sex couples can just go through the trouble to get married outside the country, then even as the conscience of the American public grows at its painstakingly sluggish speed, those in office will have this loophole as an excuse to block change.

Instead, we should take it on ourselves to bring the issue of same-sex marriage to the forefront so that our representatives can make it clear that, in this country, no one is discriminated against. Even as we, students at UR, worry about exams, papers and a dining plan, there are countless couples throughout the country, just like the one from Monroe County, who are repeatedly denied the rights that we take for granted.

Whether it is narrow-mindedness predicated on the fear caused by the War on Terror, judgments made on candidates because of outdated cultural biases or the denial of rights that we have no right to deny anyone from, like marriage to whomever one pleases, it is time to renew the fight for change, which has occupied a place in the back of our heads and the inner caverns of our consciousnesses.

Epstein is a member of the class of 2010.

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