Students react to DOMA and Prop 8 cases

Brooke Shinberg

Students are conflicted over the Proposition 8 and DOMA cases looked at by the Supreme Court last week.

California Proposition 8 was passed in 2008 by a state amendment process; its passing made only marriages between a man and a woman legal.

This proposition grew from opposition to the California Supreme Court ruling on In re Marriage cases that changed California law on same-sex marriage. In that case, judges agreed that lesbian and gay couples were being discriminated against by not being allowed to marry. NIU law professor Elvia Arriola said a movement was created in opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I think everyone should be able to get married no matter their sexuality,” said junior hospitality major Stephanie Schwarz. “Love is love.”

Eighteen thousand same-sex couples were married before same-sex marriage was repealed, Arriola said. Proposition 8 reaching the Supreme Court last week is the result of a lawsuit brought by couples saying the removal of their right to marry is unfair and not legal, Arriola said.

“Personally, I’ve heard the arguments of the sanctity of marriage,” said senior philosophy major Justin Thompson. “Religion is a completely separate issue then equal rights.”

Arriola said religion was the cause of the opposition that ended gay marriage in California in 2008.

“Well, I think all in all I would say I disapprove of same sex marriage because of what I believe,” said Miriam Park, junior special education major. “It’s not that I hate gay people, they deserve rights too.”

The Defense of Marriage Act is a federal law that strictly defines marriage as only between a man and a woman, Arriola said. This means a widow or widower from a same-sex marriage cannot claim benefits.

“If there is a distinction of the name, civil union or marriage, that’s all that should be different,” Thompson said.

Immigration Equality, an LGBT advocacy group, filed a case against the Defense Against Marriage Act on behalf of five couples in New York. The lawsuit, Blesch v. Holder, targets the inability of these spouses to secure residency in the United States through the marriage-based green card application process. This lawsuit is one of many pending lawsuits challenging the Defense of Marriage Act. The Supreme Court heard the oral arguments over the two days detailing the stories of each of the five couples living in different countries away from each other.