Supreme Court debate prompts varied community reaction

By Jessica Wettig

The Supreme Court of the United States could be one step closer to nationally legalizing one of the country’s most controversial issues.

The Supreme Court debated the Defense of Marriage Act’s legalization Wednesday and furthered the possibility of overthrowing it. The decision could lead to the national legalization of same-sex marriage, but many issues can oppose or favor it. Former President Bill Clinton implemented the act in 1996 to specifically define marriage solely legal between a man and a woman, but the court could issue a ruling by the end of June, according to ABC News.

Community members hold differed opinions on the debate and whether civil unions provide adequate benefits to same-sex couples.


Jackson County Republican Party Chairman Gloria Campos said while legal civil unions allow many rights to those involved, but it’s just not enough for some people because of the fraction of rights — excluding inheritance or Social Security benefits — the unions allow compared to marriage. Campos said the same-sex marriage issue is more about the separation of church and state rather than a discrimination or equal rights issue.

“I am respectful of everybody’s rights,” she said.

There’s a difference between going to a courthouse and getting a marriage license, and going into a church and having a religious ceremony, Campos said. The issue lies in civil unions and their lack of rights compared to marriage, she said, and civil unions can be amended to gain the equivalent amount of rights of marriage.

Some students are happy with the Supreme Court’s attention to the issue, but feel the trial only scratches the surface of homosexuality discrimination.

Sarah Self, an LGBTQ Resource Center graduate assistant from Lafayette, La., studying social work, said the Supreme Court review is a step forward for the country. However, she said churches should not be mandated to perform ceremonies they do not agree with, such as same-sex marriage.

“I don’t think government should really be involved in (marriage) at all,” Self said.

Self said although she views the debate as positive for the LGBTQ movement, she fears society will believe the issue is resolved if Defense of Marriage is overthrown. Movements often lose momentum when the legal issues are resolved, she said.


Homosexuals are still bullied in schools and violent acts still occur against them, she said, and such issues won’t go away just because same-sex marriage is legalized. These are social problems that must be recognized and addressed with societal changes, she said.

Paige Gautreaux, a senior from New Iberia, La., studying accounting, said she agrees other issues are ignored when the media focuses on Defense of Marriage, including legal discrimination issues nationwide taking place recently. She said she thinks it’s embarrassing for the U.S. that marriage is not equal yet, and said that this is an issue should have been addressed long ago.

Gautreaux said the term “wedding” should be designated as a religious ceremony and remain a legal term. She said she supports the idea of separation of church and state because no one is trying to force any church to perform same-sex weddings, and some churches already perform them.

“I have not yet seen a legal argument against marriage equality that is not based in … individual, moral and usually religious principles,” she said. “There is not a legal basis for these arguments against same-sex marriage.”

Gautreaux said she hopes the act is overturned and the Supreme Court implements a legal acknowledgement for marriage equality nationally, whether civil unions gain the same rights as marriage, or that marriage is implemented as the definition for all legal marriages.

The Jackson County Democratic Party Chairman and SIU Newman Catholic Student Center did not return multiple requests for comment by press time Monday.