Many students involved with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community had mixed reactions to news on Tuesday that a federal court ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 2008 ballot initiative violated the 14th Amendment’s promise to give all citizens equal legal status.
“Proposition 8 serves no purpose and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples,” the court said. “The Constitution simply does not allow for ‘laws of this sort.’”
The court upheld a 2010 ruling by U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker. Some news sources have reported that the Supreme Court could see the case as early as next year while others have said the case might only apply to California.
Genevieve Flores, 22, a graduate student studying public administration, said she and her girlfriend of four years felt reserved about the ruling.
“I’m not planning any weddings and we’re not buying rings, but we’re optimistic,” Flores said. “We’re still cautious.”
Flores and her girlfriend were a year into their relationship during the five-month window in which same-sex marriage was legal.
“Now we’re living together,” Flores said. “If we were a straight couple, the path would be marriage.”
Norman Chootong, a freshman majoring in computer science, had the same hesitant optimism about getting the legal right to marry in the future.
“The day that the Supreme Court decides we can marry, because I know it will happen and I hope it will be in my lifetime, I’m going to get really emotional,” Chootong said. “Now I’m just waiting for the next step to happen.”
Director of the LGBT Center Vincent Vigil said legalizing same-sex marriage would also affect students who are not in a same-sex relationship.
“We may have students here who are children of same-sex parents,” Vigil said. “We might have students who have an uncle or aunt who’s gay. This decision trickles down and affects everyone in USC in some way — whether it’s a loved one, a family member or their parents.”
Glenn Andrew, a sophomore majoring in theatre, said he wanted the issue to go to the Supreme Court so he could still be married if he visited his home state of Louisiana.
“I believe this country is in a place where, if it does go to the Supreme Court, it’s going to pass,” Andrew said.
Elizabeth Soriano, a sophomore majoring in communication, said she was elated when a friend texted her about the news Tuesday.
“I can get married and be not seen as a second-class citizen,” Soriano said. “I’m like everybody else. Why should the government decide who I can marry?”
Vigil also said that, in 2008, a student group called Trojans for Equality organized phone banks to encourage people to vote against Proposition 8.
“This is a great victory but now, moving forward, we can’t be apathetic,” Vigil said. “We have to think, ‘What is the next thing we have to do to make sure gay marriage is legal in California?’”