Courtesy of MCT
The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on same-sex marriage this week, and some students have turned to social media to share their support for the cause.
As part of the Human Rights Campaign’s “United for Marriage,” people all across the world have been changing their profile pictures to a red graphic with an equal sign, symbolizing support for marriage equality.
Aaron Clapper, a third-year in public affairs, said he loved seeing the swarm of red on social media.
“For friends and allies, random friends on Facebook and even gay partners-in-crime to show their support is astounding,” he said. “I was emotional today seeing everyone’s support, and even reading posts made by everyone who find the issue so thrilling.”
Clapper called the support “overwhelming.”
“It was awesome to experience as a student who studies this on a daily basis, and as a gay man,” he said.
The campaign started in light of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8 on Tuesday and the hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday.
Proposition 8 was passed in California in 2008, 142 days after same-sex marriage became legal in the state. The state constitutional amendment made it so only marriage between a man and a woman was legally recognized.
In those 142 days, about 18,000 same-sex couples wed, according to the Associated Press.
The Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996 under former President Bill Clinton, defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman. Under this law, same-sex married couples are deprived of a number of benefits in areas of tax breaks, social security and tax benefits.
But for some students, the ability to marry who they want means everything to them.
“For me personally, to be able to get married means the world,” Clapper said. “If it (were to) ever happen for me, it would mean that I am recognized as an equal in this world – that I am valued the same as my straight counterpart.”
Connor Hooper, a first-year in public affairs, changed his profile picture on Facebook and joined Clapper and others in support of equal rights.
“I did it for all of my friends and family members who are gay,” Hooper said. “I did it because it is unacceptable to make any American anything less than entirely free.”
Like Clapper, Hooper said he was happy to see friends and students support the cause online.
“It’s heartwarming,” Hooper said. “It is inspiring and I never had the expectation that so many people would publicly stand up for the cause.”
Lawrence Baum, professor emeritus of political science, said the cases raise the question of whether the laws violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
“These cases have attracted enormous interest because they involve an issue that is very important to many people and that is highly controversial,” he said.
Baum also said the amount of attention the cases receive could affect their outcomes.
“In particular, the justices who think that state prohibitions of same-sex marriage violate the U.S. Constitution might hesitate to reach such a decision because it would have a sweeping effect on the country and because it would bring the Court directly into the controversy,” he said.
Baum said growing support for same-sex marriage might yield opposite effects, however.
“If (the justices) perceive a political tide favoring same-sex marriage, they might feel that the issue ultimately will be resolved in legislatures and public votes,” he said. “They might then conclude that the Court would do best by letting that happen without intervening to resolve the issue itself.”
Clapper said that while the legalization of same-sex marriage might not come overnight, these hearings are a step in the right direction.
“(This) is a huge milestone,” he said. “Not only for gay rights and same-sex marriage, but also for our Supreme Court. For us to possibly experience one of the most controversial, extreme cases of the Supreme Court is huge.”