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I agree with number 4 that civil rights continue to evolve. At first, it was considered legal to deny rights to people based on race and nationality. Now, it is illegal. However at this time it is considered legal to deny a person rights based on the person's sexual orientation.
I think if you look back at the 1960's and the legislation that was passed during that time was the first step in ensuring rights of all regardless of race. In the time since then we have discovered all types of discrimination, discrimination based on religion, sexuality, gender, and ethnicity just to name a few. It seems as though the protection of civil rights is an ever evolving issue.
In response to # 2: I am not sure it is correct to state that the Government has "denied" the claims of gay Americans to equal protection of the law under the 14h Amendment. It would be more nearly correct to state that the government has not yet dealt with these issues. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed only after the failure of Reconstruction, which ended in 1877; and only when Lyndon Johnson showed the courage to support their passage. The Gay Rights issue is at the moment an evolving issue. A number of state have passed laws protecting the rights of Gay Americans, including the right to marry. I am not sure how the present Supreme Court will react; yet I believe firmly that as attitudes change, gay Americans will receive the same protections under the 14th Amendment as have other minorities.
Over the years, the American government has done a lot of things about civil rights. It has protected some civil rights and rejected others at various times in our history.
The best-known instance of government involvement with civil rights came back in the '60s when African-Americans were pushing to be given civil rights. At that point, the government passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Both of these protected the civil rights of African-Americans.
However, there are times when the government rejects claims for civil rights. The most obvious case of that right now is with gay rights. Gay rights activists claim the right to, for example, marry and serve openly in the military. To this point, the government has denied these claims.
So the government has, in practice, protected some civil rights and declined to protect others.
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