North Texas Daily

UNT voices same-sex marriage views

UNT voices same-sex marriage views

UNT voices same-sex marriage views
January 28
23:56 2015

Steven James / Senior Staff Writer

The Supreme Court’s decision on Jan. 16 to decide the fate of same-sex marriage in the U.S. in April of this year attracted attention from people across the nation, including those at UNT.

The Court Justices agreed to decide on two issues involving same-sex marriage—whether states have the right to ban same-sex marriage and whether they can constitutionally refuse to recognize same-sex marriage rights in other states.

The arguments will focus on a series of cases that involve same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

“Undoubtedly the debate on gay marriage has changed radically in the last decade,” Associate Political Science Professor Kimi King said. “A majority of states had bans, and today those numbers have flipped, largely because federal courts have struck down the bans.”

In 2012 in U.S. vs. Windsor, the Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevented same-sex couples from being recognized as spouses or married for legal purposes, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Last year, Michigan and Kentucky’s prohibitions were ruled unconstitutional, but are currently waiting for pending appeals from the Supreme Court.

The court also decided in the that the federal government could not impose marriage rights or bans on the states. In April, the Supreme Court will decide whether states can ban same-sex couples from getting married, King said.

Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia currently allow same-sex marriage.

Texas’ ban was ruled unconstitutional last year by District Court Judges Orlando Garcia and Barbara Nellermoe. Texas governor Greg Abbott is trying to appeal both decisions.

“People are afraid of what they don’t know and don’t understand,” Pride Alliance student services coordinator Kathleen Hobson said. “However, people should also challenge themselves to learn about queer identities. If people do not challenge themselves, at some point ignorance is not an excuse.”

Approximately 3.8 to 4 percent  of people in the U.S. identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to The Williams Institute.

Support for same-sex marriage has been steadily increasing, with 55 percent of Americans and 80 percent of young adults supporting same-sex marriage in 2014, according to a Gallup poll.

“I am excited that it appears that the tide is turning and bans on same-gender marriages are being lifted,” Hobson said. “I certainly support the lifting of these bans, but also hope that the country continues to focus efforts on protections for the transgender community. The right to marry the partner of your choice is important, but it is hard to imagine that it is more important than basic protection against harassment, violence and discrimination.”

Pride Alliance, Glad, By the Bi and other UNT Ally organizations work to make LGBT students feel safer while on campus, including pushing for gender-neutral bathrooms and holding training sessions so people can learn about the LGBT community.

“I think we’re progressing as a group,” integrative studies senior Vanessa Ferreira said. “I think everyone should go about being a good person and how you want to be treated.”

Featured Image: Members of T.R.I.A.D gather in the Pride Alliance office. The group meets every Monday at 6 p.m. to discuss current issues and build transgender community. Photo by Byron Thompson – Senior Staff Photographer

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