The Supreme Court of the United States made two rulings in favor of same-sex marriage Wednesday, causing many happy reactions within the Cal Poly community.
The first 5-4 decision strikes down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman for the purpose of federal benefits. The courts declared this part of the act violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law, allowing married same-sex couples to receive federal benefits.
The second case (also a 5-4 vote) involved California’s Proposition 8, which amended the state’s constitution, defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The Supreme Court declined to hear this case, therefore leaving a trial court’s ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional in place. This decision will allow the resumption of same-sex marriage in California.
Erin Echols, coordinator of the Pride and MultiCultural Centers, said the Pride Center is a supporter of marriage equality. Her reaction to the news:
“Amazing,” she said.
“This was great news to wake up to this morning,” Echols said. “A lot of people have been waiting for this for a long time.”
Though students may or may not be thinking of marriage right now, Echols said, “this is not just a marriage statement but an equality statement.”
The happy feelings extend past the United States.
Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Humphrey was in a meeting with other student affairs professionals from around the world when he heard the news.
“The room erupted into a mixture of tears of happiness and cheers of joy,” Humphrey wrote in an email.
Humphrey was pleased the court ruled to extend federal benefits to same-sex couples also, having fought for those benefits in Arizona before coming to Cal Poly.
Humphrey was part of a group that sued Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer over her denial of equal healthcare benefits for same-sex partners of state employees. Because of this, his partner was not insured for a time because of the lack of state coverage.
“Personally, it means the world to my family,” he wrote. “It protects my children and my partner in ways that an opposite sex couple has always had.”
Humphrey wrote that if something were to happen to him, he now has “additional peace of mind that my family would be treated equitably by the government.”
Political science rising junior Hamazah Ramadan has followed the Supreme Court this whole term and was relieved with the outcome, he said.
Ramadan was recently elected to the College of Liberal Arts Board of Directors and hopes to work on campus exposure to these issues and create campus conversation. He also hopes to work with civil rights or human rights law for the American Civil Liberties Union one day.
“It’s finally here,” Ramadan said about the decisions. “We’ve been waiting so long.”