By Victoria Neely, Columnist
Just last week in the controversial case of Perry v. Brown in the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional in California under the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. There is the possibility that Proposition 8 will make it all the way to the Supreme Court, which will make the final decision on gay marriage for California.
Many other states have taken steps toward legalizing gay marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships as well. However, although civil unions and domestic partnerships are big steps toward gay civil rights, they are not recognized by the federal government. The biggest question in the minds of many activists is whether or not it is constitutional to permit two people of the same sex to legally marry.
There are many benefits that a legal marriage can provide to a couple that civil unions, domestic partnerships, or simply being a couple can provide, such as tax benefits, a spouse being able to make medical decisions, adopting children, inheritance, insurance purposes, and the list goes on.
Why should two men or two women who share as close of a bond as any man and woman be prohibited from legal marriage and all of the benefits it brings? The answer is that they shouldn't. Many arguments have arisen against gay marriage, but I find most of them to be outdated and irrelevant in the year of 2012.
This generation of young people is the most accepting generation that this country has seen. It does not matter if someone is black, white, gay, lesbian, bisexual, Hispanic, Asian, and so on, to gain equality and respect. Hofstra University has its own Pride Network Chapter which advocates for GLBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) civil rights and liberties. It is obvious that in this generation, some significant changes will be made about the way people feel about gay rights. After all, whether a person is gay or straight, they are still human and still an American citizen, and they deserve the same rights as every other person.
Does anyone remember reading about the African American civil rights movement? Did anyone learn about the Women's Rights movement? How about Native Americans? In the past, many different groups of people have been subject to unrelenting prejudice, racism, unequal rights, harassment, and so on. At this time, we are witnessing a movement toward GLBTQ rights that our children and grandchildren will be reading about in their history books someday. It is time for everyone to understand that every single human being deserves the same respect, set of civil rights, and dignity.
I ask all of you to go back to the Constitution that our founding fathers created. Read the clauses that they wrote, and especially read the Equal Protection Clause. You may interpret it for yourself, but either way, granting citizens of the United States equal protection of the law is the right thing to do, no matter what their gender, race, sex, background, sexuality, religious belief, or anything else that would separate them from another person happens to be. It is time for us to put ourselves in their shoes to understand the feeling of being denied the right to marry.