The controversy surrounding gay marriage at the state and federal level has resurfaced as one of the most talked about social issues of our time.
Recent Supreme Court consideration should pressure students to become knowledgeable on the issue.
Although the number is growing, only 12 out of 50 states have legalized gay marriage.
If the gay community is only being afforded civil unions in the majority of states, I think it is important to educate the public about the differences between those unions and the concept of marriage.
Much to the surprise of CSUSB students, they are not the same thing.
Many of the benefits received by married couples are not afforded to those in civil unions.
“A civil union is a legal status […] it provides legal protection to couples at the state law level, but omits federal protections as well as the dignity, clarity, security and power of the word ‘marriage,’” according to Boston based GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders).
Student Gabby Sandoval, who works at the Pride Center on campus, believes that the disparity between civil unions and marriage is huge and that it poses as one of the biggest problems for gay couples.
“Civil unions, although recognized nationally, do not provide life insurance benefits, aren’t eligible for tax deductions and don’t qualify for specific welfare or disabilities benefits,” she said.
She also commented on the emotional implications of not being recognized as married.
“It causes a whole pool of new problems. Even if I could get married, it wouldn’t be valid in every state […] When gay couples try to register their kids in school they get questioned [and] I wouldn’t be able to visit my partner in the hospital if she was sick.”
Sandoval also mentioned the Second Parent Adoption problem, which doesn’t allow the parent to obtain custody of a partners children should the other pass. The children usually go to a grandparent or close relative.
When it comes to a vote on the issue, Americans have demonstrated a common theme to conserve the historical definition of marriage.
“To date, 30 states have constitutionally defined marriage as between a man and a woman,” according to The Christian Post, US.
However, I think it is important that voters hear from the gay community and become educated on how these types of laws affect a gay person’s daily life.
“Not having the option to get married just feels really shitty […] It’s like I can’t rise up against the hierarchy in society,” said Sandoval.
She continued to say, “I don’t want to be discriminated against because of who I am or who I love. Allowing me to marry the women I love would only add on to the traditional concept of marriage, it wouldn’t tarnish the original meaning,” she said.
America was designed to allow the constituency to decide and dictate our laws, but it is my hope that people truly consider the perspectives of the people they are effecting with their vote.