The frigid wind chill in the downtown oval on the evening of Monday, March 25 didn’t cool the spirits of the gathering supporters to oppose The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Supporters held signs with powerful messages to give a voice for marriage equality in positive protest. The event was called “Light The Way To Justice.” Held on the same day as the anniversary of the Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., 48 years ago, the main purpose for the event was “to raise awareness about what is going on with respect of the Supreme Court that’s going to be making some important decisions about DOMA which does not allow people of the same sex to marry,” KSC Professor Karen Cangialosi, who helped organize in the event, said.
Event supporters ranged from Keene residents, college students and staff and supporters from other towns. “Not only are we doing this in Keene but also there are hundreds of these rallies going on across the country today,” KSC sophomore Cara Logerfo said.
KSC sophomore Alexa Stanley stated, “My best friend of 18 years is a lesbian, I want my best friend to be able to marry whomever she wants to marry.”
Congress passed DOMA in 1996, and former president Bill Clinton signed it into law. The law consists of two main functions. Firstly, Section III, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing any marriages between gay or lesbian couples, even if the couples are considered legally married by their home state. The second main function of DOMA is that individual states do not legally have to acknowledge the relationships of gay and lesbian couples who were married in another state.
States that recognize same-sex marriage include Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington—as well as the District of Columbia. Those nine states represent 15.7 percent of the American population.
Suze Orman, a personal financial guru and author, told MSNBC if DOMA is overturned, she may move from Florida, which doesn’t permit gay marriage, to a state that does.
As a result of legal arguments before the Supreme Court on March 27, it was found that the liberal justices leaned towards overturning the law while the conservative half found no reason to change the law, according to an article from the Chicago Tribune on March 27.
In a press release from the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Congresswoman Ann Kuster stated, “LGBT Americans deserve equal treatment under the law – period,” Kuster said. “Every day that DOMA remains the law of the land is another day that committed same-sex couples are denied access to the benefits all other married couples enjoy. It’s long past time to strike down this unconstitutional law, and I hope that’s what the Supreme Court will do later this year.” Kuster, a strong believer in equal marriage rights, also played a part during the February Supreme Court case “the U.S. v. Edith Schlain Windsor,” a legal challenge to DOMA.
According to an ABC News Washington Post News Poll conducted in March this year, researchers found that the support for marriage equality topped an all-time high at 58 percent, leaving the remaining 42 percent against or unsure about the issue.
But among that 42 percent, in a BuzzFeed.com post on March 26, journalist Matt Stopera asked 20 young adults anonymously at a Nation for Marriage rally “why they are supporting traditional marriage.” “God says honor your mother and father not your mother and mother or your father and father,” one young adult female stated.
“Marriage is a child-centered institution not an adult centered one,” another rally attendee explained. However, last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics, explained “that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry is in the best interests of children. When critics worry this will lead to more adoptions by gay couples, they ignore that the alternative often is for these children to suffer in orphanages or in a flawed foster-care system.”
According to a March 31 article from Newsday, Chief Justice John Roberts said proponents were showing flaws with their dual claims that children of same-sex marriages do as well as others and that legal recognition is vital for these children.
Among the crowd that stood outside the Supreme Court on March 27 stood Westboro Baptist Church “ring-leader” and founder of the church, Fred Phelps Jr. according to an article from Huffington Post. The church known for its preachings against homosexuality and strict rules didn’t forget to show off their signs, all inscribed with discriminating words against marriage equality. “Any Bible believers who don’t show up when this is going on, they might as well get lockjaw and stay home,” Phelps told the Huffington Post.
While the debate of DOMA heats up in the Supreme Court, in Keene State College, some students and faculty members of the student organization KSC Pride have mixed feeling towards the acceptance and support the campus has towards LGBT groups. During a TED talk about gay rights in the Night Owl Cafe in February, Pride Vice President junior Julia Rasku said, “I feel better about myself because I’ve had this community to support me in my own growth.”
On the other hand, Pride member and Residential Director Aaron Escobedo said, “Even though KSC has a great amount of acceptance, I hear a lot of really negative language in my residence halls and across campus. I think we have a lot of work to do.”
Angela Scionti can be contacted at email@example.com