Texas gay rights debate intensifies

gaymarriageBy BILLY DENNIS

A federal judge’s recent decision to strike down Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage has sparked debate on campus.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio ruled that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional on Feb. 25. Then he placed a stay on his ruling pending the appeals and decisions from the higher courts. This means that same-sex couples will still be unable to officially marry in Texas.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed an appeal, and the case will now head to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Petroleum engineering major Avery Rains applauded Garcia’s decision to void the ban.

“I agree, the ruling was correct,” he said. “I don’t believe the government should have a say in whom you marry.”

Thomas Do, a Math Spot tutor, opposes the decision, relying heavily on the Bible for his reasoning.

“Most people say that love should be between two people, but no, it should be between one man and one woman,” Do said. “If you have a homosexual act be caught by authorities, it should be a crime.”

Garcia’s decision relies heavily on the 14th amendment, which says states cannot deny people equal protection under the law.

“Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution,” Garcia said.

Garcia said he was simply upholding the U.S. Constitution, but Republicans like Gov. Rick Perry and Abbott say the decision flies in the face of Texas voters, who overwhelmingly voted to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman in 2005.

While Texas voters have spoken in the past, many consider Garcia’s ruling to be the correct action for the courts to take.

“Just because the majority thinks something is right doesn’t make it right,” history professor Mike Noble said. “I don’t necessarily like legislation from the bench, but this is a case where I think it’s appropriate. It prevents the tyranny of the majority.”

Political science professor Dr. Stacey Jurhree agrees with Noble, explaining that our form of government is a republic and not a democracy. He said the reason the word democracy is never mentioned in the Constitution is because Thomas Jefferson and George Washington feared the majority would overrule minority rights.

“We have a republic form of government with majority rule with respect to minority rights,” Jurhree said. “If this was not the case, I would still be sitting in the back of the bus.”

However, the victory for gay rights advocates could only be temporary. Many believe the Supreme Court could be a major hurdle in the path to equality. They cite the current conservative makeup of the court as being unfriendly to their cause.

Others are more confident, expecting Chief Justice John Roberts to take a strict constitutionalist view.

“If they’re trying to base their decision off the Constitution, then I’m pretty sure that [same-sex marriage] will be [affirmed,]” said Fabiola Resendiz, a student government representative to the college’s Gay Straight Alliance club.

While some may see same-sex marriage as a legal issue, others fear divine retribution from God, invoking the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of what is to come should it be legalized.

“I believe the Bible, and when we go against the Bible, we get into trouble,” Math Spot staff member Patsy Mirtz said. “Look at California with all their gay people. … They’re running out of money, going bankrupt and experiencing a drought.”

Many people use the Bible as their basis of support and reasoning on the issue of same-sex marriage. Others see this as cherry picking the quotes that support their particular stance.

“God will not smite us for allowing gay marriage,” engineering major Eduardo Aguirre said. “He didn’t smite us when we outlawed slavery, which was supposedly God’s will.”

Selena Ollervides, president of the Gay Straight Alliance, also rejects the use of the Bible for a basis of support against same-sex marriage.

“They just want to twist the Bible around to make it fit what their views are,” she said.

Many believe that opposition to same-sex marriage and gay rights is more generational than anything, citing the growing support among young people.

“Of course, it’s going to be different for our parents because they’re a different generation,” said Cecilia Mendoza, Gay Straight Alliance historian.

“Coming up to them and telling the truth of what you are is very emotional. I’m just really glad to have a mother who supports me no matter what. We should all have that.”

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