The Supreme Court has decided to take on the issue of gay marriage, combining four existing cases in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The court will hear arguments from these states and rule this spring on the following: Do same-sex couples have the constitutional right to get married? If so, are states required to recognize these marriages?
Same-sex marriage being one of the most controversial social issues of this century, many students and faculty members here at Ferris are hopeful that the court will rule in their favor.
Corey Nichols, a sophomore architecture major from Holly, was excited to hear the news, having struggled because of his lifestyle since he was in high school.
“I’m thrilled at the idea because I could get married in my own state,” said Nichols. “I left my home when I was 15 after I came out. I lived in an abusive home. After 5 years, they still don’t speak about it.”
While Nichols is hopeful, he’s still aware of the current political climate in Michigan.
“Michigan is a very conservative state. I feel now that Rick Snyder is back in office, gay marriage is one of his smallest concerns,” said Nichols. “His main goal is the economy, not humans.”
It is that political climate exactly that could be why Michigan’s gay marriage case has become so complicated. Last year, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee had all lifted their bans on same-sex marriage. In Michigan, some 300 gay couples got legally married before a U.S. Circuit Court decided to uphold all four states’ marriage bans, claiming states did not have the authority to decide on matters of the Constitution.
A 2014 Washington Post-ABC News poll indicates that 59% of Americans support allowing gay couples to marry.
“If they rule against gay marriage, I personally will be sad,” said Krystal Karnofsky, a Ferris alum with a degree in Music Industry Management. “This would mean that the Supreme Court doesn’t agree with most of the country about allowing same sex couples to marry.”
Karnofsky has dealt extensively with the Ferris Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance (D-SAGA). She said that on campus, her lifestyle has generally been accommodated
“I feel that the LGBT community is properly accepted at Ferris. It has been getting better and better over the years,” said Karnofsky. “We are being heard about issues that need to be discussed and worked on here at Ferris. When D-SAGA has events on campus, we are seeing more and more support from not just students but the faculty and staff.”
Nichols tends to feel the same level of respect from students and faculty.
“All of the advisors and faculty are strictly professional and seriously don’t care,” said Nichols. “The ones I do know on a personal level are super cool with it.”
Katherine LaPietra is a professor of theater here at Ferris. Some of the plays and musicals she directs, including “The Laramie Project,” have tackled gay rights and homophobia head on.
“What it boils down to is that everyone should be able to love who they want to love and be recognized,” said LaPietra. “Why is it a threat? I’ve never understood that. It doesn’t threaten your lifestyle if somebody else lives their life different than you.”
“Maybe 10 years from now, it won’t be an issue,” said LaPietra. “It’ll be the issue that people made big that isn’t big anymore. Won’t that be nice?”
Just last week, a federal court in Montgomery, Alabama struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, citing that any marriage ban would infringe upon gay couples’ equal protection and due process rights.
36 states now have legal same-sex marriage, while the other 14 ban it.
For more information on the upcoming Supreme Court decision go to http://www.equalitymi.org/marriage for all the latest news.