By Dan Jurcisin
Last Monday’s politics forum focused on informing students about how banning same-sex marriage is a violation of civil rights. The Sept. 17 presentation, held in the Library Auditorium, was also informative regarding the progress that has been made toward legalizing same-sex marriage, but the main point was to illustrate why marriage inequality is an abomination of basic human rights. Reed Gusciora, deputy majority leader of the N.J. Assembly, led the presentation.
Gusciora began his presentation with excerpts from both the U.S. and N.J. constitutions, which state that happiness is one of the rights granted to all citizens. He then described court cases in which the court ruled that same-sex marriage was to remain illegal because marriage was exempt from this “happiness clause.” The case of Loving v. Virginia was described in the presentation in order to convey how denying one the right to marry due to racial differences is no different than denying one the right based on sexual orientation.
Earlier this year, Gusciora proposed a bill that would allow for same-sex couples to marry in N.J. However, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the bill on the grounds that it was unconstitutional, even though the New Jersey constitution makes no mention of gender in regards to marriage. Gusciora then said that Christie believed that the voters should decide the laws concerning same-sex marriage. Gusciora disagreed with the governor on this, saying, “I simply believe that civil rights issues should never be put on a ballot.”
The presentation featured details of many other court cases, one in particular in which the court ruled that prisoners, despite their violations of the law, still had the right to be married. The fact that criminals can be married but innocent people cannot simply because of their sexual orientation is, as Gusciora put it, “interesting.” Another court case that stood out was one in which two men got married and then moved to Texas, a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, to be divorced. In this case, the court ended up recognizing their marriage, but only in order to dissolve it.
The presentation ended with a video clip of Keith Olbermann speaking on MSNBC about same-sex marriage. He delivered a passionate speech in which he expressed his disappointment following the passage of Proposition Eight, a bill that does not allow same-sex marriage in the state of Calif.
Gusciora answered audience questions following the presentation.