Rite is a meaning-filled four letter word.
A rite is a solemn ceremony or act.
It is also a homonym for the word "right", an adjective meaning something that is morally correct or honorable, and a noun meaning a moral or legal entitlement.
Last night, the New York State government did the right thing by granting homosexuals the right to participate in the civil rite of marriage. This was not an easy decision or obvious vote for many of those involved, but I am glad that several of those that changed their vote from years past did so after careful consideration, reflection, and acknowledgement of the rights of everyone living in the state. I am very glad that there are now couples out there who can publicly acknowledge the obligations they have towards each other, and that society bestows upon them as a family.
This is, by no means, the end of the road. This is only one state out of many, in a nation that doesn't recognize the right yet. That it is an issue at all polarizes instead of unites us and confuses those who are still trying to understand themselves and their role in the world.
We are but one country among many. There are people around the world who do not even have basic rights that some of us take for granted, not to mention those in this country who cannot exercise their inherent or granted rights for one reason or another, and certainly not to mention many others who cannot even imagine the rights and privileges we have any more than they can imagine where they will next find food.
Painted that way, this change is but a drop in a vast bucket of things that we, as citizens of the nation and world, must do to improve the lives of our neighbors and to secure the rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuits of happiness". But it does offer one other four letter word - hope.
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