This week for the second time in two weeks the subject of equality and equal treatment came up in my Swedish for Immigrants class. The first was a presentation on sexual health and the second was a follow up on a required class on bullying everyone was required to attend in December. Each time part of that discussion goes something like this, If a man likes a man it is OK and if they want to get married it is OK. If a woman likes a woman it is ok and if they want to get married it is OK.
Now these discussions do not just center around sexual orientation. They also include someone’s religion, skin color, education level, and other areas that could have the potential for inequality. This is not to say that Sweden is a UTOPIA, but Sweden has become committed to the idea of equal and made great strides in the direction.
This contrasts against my experiences in the United States. My career in the United States Navy came to an end in 2003 because of my sexual orientation. In Utah there always existed the possibility I could lose my job if my employer found out I was gay. When Vanim and I began our relationship I began to confront the realities of inequality on a very real and personal basis again. There was no way for me to obtain medical insurance for Vanim. In the end we ran into we ran into the big wall called DOMA that meant I had to immigrate to Sweden if we were going to stay together.
Really it is an extraordinary things for me when I hear the importance of equality and equal treatment in public institutions as a requirement not just a nice thing to strive for. It also brings a great amount of peace to know that Vanim and I are treated the same under the law as any other relationship here in Sweden. Since I have lived here in Sweden many things have begun to change in the United States. The United States government will now allow Vanim to obtain a visa if we are legally married. The prohibition against same sex marriages in Utah has been overturned by a federal judge waiting for appeal. It gives me a great deal of hope for a better brighter future for the United States when it comes to matters of equality.