Last Thursday night’s conversation in Peirce Lounge centered on the implications of same-sex marriage. A panel moderated by Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD) Kathleen Tipler and consisting of Kenyon Review Fellow Elizabeth Rogers, Assistant Professor of English Rosemary O’Neill and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies Laurie Finke debated the components of the recent Supreme Court decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8.
The panel focused on what the institution of marriage means in a cultural context. “Just because you think something is a good idea, sounds fair and seems just doesn’t mean that’s how a lawyer is going to talk about it,” Finke said.
The panelists discussed how some shortcomings of the decisions were that “there was very little mention of the issues of taxes,” O’Neill stated, as well as how the decision does not apply to state laws and how focusing solely on legislation can take away from other important issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.
“We’re not focusing on passing legislation through Congress that could make homosexuality a class protected under the federal government level in terms of employment discrimination. We’re like, ﾑNo, marriage is more important,’ even though in 29 states, Ohio included, it is perfectly legal to fire someone for being gay,” O’Neill said.
“Marriage is a weird thing in that we’re pursuing the rights of individuals, but all the rights associated with marriage are invested in the relationship, not the individual,” Finke said.
The panelists also discussed the historical significance of gay marriage and the Supreme Court decisions. “It was a very emotional decision, because if you’re a person who has a same-sex relationship, this is a big symbolic moment,” Rogers, who is currently engaged to her partner, said. “It’s hard to divorce that from the rest of it.”