Students, Guest Speaker React to DOMA

By Jennifer Christensen

Comment Staff

With the recent attention given to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as it comes under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court, it is no surprise on a campus with a large LGBT presence, some students at Bridgewater State University feel involved.

DOMA was passed by congress in 1996, defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Therefore, in the eyes of federal law, same-sex marriages are not recognized, even if the two were married in their home state where gay marriage is legal. Most federal courts agree this act is unconstitutional. It is now up to the Supreme Court to make a decision.

If DOMA is ruled unconstitutional, it will not force other states to make gay marriage legal, but will mandate the federal government to recognize all same-sex marriages.

“A civil union is legally not the equivalent of marriage,” said Sara Comeau, a student employee of the pride center on campus. “This could potentially affect me because I identify as bisexual.”

According to Forbes.com, people who are not recognized as legally married cannot receive social security benefits in the event of a spouse’s death. It is also impossible to file joint tax returns or get health care benefits from a spouse working in certain fields. Because of this, DOMA causes countless financial problems for same-sex couples.

However, some supporters of DOMA have spoken out as well. In an article on Christianpost.com, Maggie Gallagher, chairwoman for National Organization for Marriage, contends it is important for the government to send a positive public message to Americans about the institutional importance of marriage.

Social media has been a huge tool used for spreading knowledge about the DOMA. Many Facebook users changed their profile pictures to a red equal sign, signifying their belief in marriage equality for all.

“The profile pictures are raising awareness,” Comeau said. “It’s a good thing.”

On Tuesday, April 2, the second annual Rainbow Luncheon was held in the Rondileau Campus Center ballroom.

“It is a reminder when we come together that we celebrate diversity and inclusion,” said Bridgewater State University President, Dana Mohler-Faria.

Guest speaker Candace Gingrich-Jones praised Bridgewater State for being a diverse and open-minded campus. The event attracted so many guests, that after ten minutes it was standing room only. Gingrich-Jones is the sister of republican Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the house. Through this affiliation, she became an “accidental advocate” for gay rights.

Candace Gingrich-Jones shares her experience at the Rainbow Luncheon. Shavon Stokes Photo.
Candace Gingrich-Jones shares her experience at the Rainbow Luncheon. Shavon Stokes Photo.

“I always knew I was different,” said Gingrich-Jones. “I just didn’t know what that difference was.”

Gingrich-Jones discussed growing up with those who attended, as well as her beliefs on certain limitations DOMA puts on same sex couples.

“Driver’s licenses transfer from state to state. Marriage licenses and certificates should too,” she said. “Just because you drive out of one state does not mean you can’t drive in the next one.”

Most importantly, she left the audience with a quote from influential hip-hop artists, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

“No law is going to change us. We have to change us.”

Jennifer Christensen is a Comment staff writer. Email her at jchristensen@student.bridgew.edu.

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