Marriage ruling divides campus

The Massachusetts case took the same-sex marriage debate to a new height – or depth.

Paula Haynes

Tuesday’s Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriages left members of the University community with mixed opinions.

While some said the decision was outside the realm of the courts, others said the ruling makes an important statement.

The court asked the Massachusetts Legislature to reform its current marriage law within 180 days, meaning gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people will not see the effects of this ruling for up to six months.

Some University community members said it is not the policy’s immediate legal effects but the recognition of same-sex relationships that makes this ruling relevant.

“Being able to love the person you love and to legally legitimize that relationship in all ways would strip away the second-class citizen status of GLBT people,” said B. David Galt, director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Programs Office.

Law professor Dale Carpenter, participated in a USAToday.com online chat Wednesday regarding the ruling. Carpenter’s research interests include same-sex harassment and the First Amendment.

“Marriage involves rights and protections, yes, but its deeper significance is in its social meaning,” Carpenter wrote.

Some students said the government has no place in the marriage process.

“I don’t think our government should be trifling in these affairs at all – on either side of the issue,” said Jeff Dahl, treasurer of Students for Family Values. The conservative University student group focuses on preserving traditional American values, according to its Web site.

He said the Constitution was created to protect individual rights from the government, not to dictate what rights an individual has.

Joan Coughlin, a University senior, said the government’s influence on such issues is a confusion of church and state.

“It’s like apples and oranges. It’s the difference between a spiritual marriage and a legal marriage,” said Coughlin, a Students for Family Values member.

Students for Family Values

President Marty Andrade likened same-sex marriage to a mental illness.

“Technically, there’s no law preventing me from marring my

imaginary friend, but if I said that, I’d be thrown in a mental hospital,” he said.

Biochemistry Senior Kari Peterson disagreed.

“Marrying is not hurting anyone,” she said.

The ruling stated that same-sex marriages would not trivialize or destroy the institution of marriage.

The court ruling also stated that the reasons used to create the state’s previous ban on same-sex marriage are now irrelevant.

Those reasons included the need to limit costs of the state-sponsored health-care plan by not covering same-sex partners, a community belief that homosexuality is immoral and the belief that same-sex marriages are not appropriate environments for raising children.