Gay marriage bills gains momentum, public support

Maryland Senators approved a law legalizing same-sex marriage Thursday with a 25-22 vote. Gov. Martin O’Malley has vowed to sign the bill, which will make Maryland the eighth state to allow gay marriage.

While still controversial, same-sex marriage has been gaining acceptance nationally in recent weeks, with the state of Washington signing it into law and the New Jersey legislature passing it through both houses, only to then have it vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.

“Personally, I have no desire to get married, it’s just not what I have in mind for my future,” said Andrew Arnt, a senior communications student at DePaul. “However, as a part of the gay community, I can’t help but feel like a second-class citizen when I hear our basic rights as human beings are stripped and constantly pending. As more and more states make the decision to legalize same-sex marriage, my faith in American citizens is slowly renewed.”

According the Pew Research Center (PRC), nearly half of the American population is in support of allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. The PRC’s 2011 poll found that an average of 46 percent of Americans favor gay rights, while a slightly lesser 45 percent of the population oppose. These new results mark the first time in 15 years of polling that the public has been divided evenly over the issue.

“I have no qualms about it and think it’s fair that states get to decide on legalizing gay marriage,” said DePaul senior Eddie Kulack. “Gay couples deserve the same rights as any other couples and should not be denied them just because their sexual preferences.”

Opponents in Washington are attempting ballot initiatives to block the law, which otherwise would come into effect in June.

“I know my lifestyle may not fit into the common social norm, but being gay is not a choice I ever had and I am no lesser of a being than anybody else because of it,” Arnt said. “Stripping the rights of the gay community is not only degrading to every member of that particular community, but it teaches younger generations that we should be treated lesser.”

Currently, same-sex couples can marry in the District of Columbia and six other states: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.

“I hope to see all 50 states eventually follow suit,” said DePaul senior Monica Gutierrez.

“You can’t say that the illegality of gays’ marriage has nothing to do with church. We need to remember that the Declaration of Independence separates church and state for a reason. Actually, it’s the First Amendment.”

Before the committee vote in Maryland, senators debated its religious liberty protections, which include stipulations that a religious group or a nonprofit organization sponsored by a religious group is not required to provide services that violate their religious beliefs, unless they receive federal funding.

The liberty provision would allow the Knights of Columbus to refuse to rent out their meeting hall for a same-sex wedding and would not require a church counseling service to counsel same-sex couples.

Chicago resident Jae Lively attributes the opposition of gay marriage to “the lack of separation of church and state in our country,” which, in her mind, is the only reason why many are against allowing same-sex couples to be legally recognized.

“What it all comes down to is the basic right to spend the rest of your life with someone you love,” said Lively.

“This isn’t even a question to me—everyone should have the ability to be recognized as legitimate in the eyes of the law, regardless of their gender and who they choose to be with. There’s absolutely no harm in that.”