NU students react to success of same-sex marriage bans

Shanika Gunaratna

One measure escaped the United States’ largely liberal shift last Tuesday: sweeping gay marriage bans in California, Florida and Arizona.

More than 40 states now have constitutional bans or laws against gay and lesbian marriage. The passage of these bans left only Massachusetts and Connecticut as states where same-sex marriages are legal.

The ban has already been contentious; signs at a protest in San Francisco Friday read “Hatred Is Not a Family Value,” “Love Will Prevail” and “I’m Embarrassed to Be a Californian,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. In the period leading up to Election Day, supporters and opponents of the ban in California spent more than $73 million trying to sway votes, a record for any ballot measure on a social issue.

Weinberg senior Nathaniel Zebrowski supports California’s Proposition 8. Zebrowski said the ban in his home state, which passed with 52 percent of the vote, is simply a classification of marriage between a man and a woman and not a legal repudiation of homosexual life.

“This is not a ban on a gay lifestyle or an identity,” he said. “You’re not taking away the right for a gay individual to express their love publicly or privately. Their lives can pretty much be the same as they were 10 days ago.”

The ban represents the strength of the conservative movement, even in the midst of Democratic sweeps in the congressional and presidential races, said Zebrowski.

“It was a reminder to me that there is a still a very strongly conservative entrenched community,” he said.

Weinberg sophomore Brandon Samuels said the amendment banning gay marriage in his home state of Florida is an intrusion on his personal life.

“If I am dating somebody and I love them and want to spend my life with them, it depends on what the state thinks,” he said. “That makes no sense to me. What I want to do with my personal life, who I choose to love, shouldn’t be affected by what somebody else thinks.”

Weinberg freshman Chase Jackson said support for the ban represents the blurry line between religious and political beliefs.

“I’d like to think that we live in a country where politics aren’t controlled by religion – the history of this country is in trying to keep these two separate,” he said. “Love should be able to exist for two people, and their rights shouldn’t be discriminated against.”

Zebrowski, however, said religion is not the primary reason the ban passed.

“People who are against promoting the rights of homosexuals to marry are not taking the moral high ground because of an abstract religious faith or to offend these people’s choices,” Zebrowski said. “We are doing it to protect an institution we feel is important.”

Samuels said too much energy is expended on defining the institution of marriage.

“A word is a word. We can play semantics here. You can call it a civil union, a partnership, but we need the same rights,” he said. “As long as I have the same rights that I deserve and I’ve earned as an American, I don’t care what you call it.”

Samuels said his friends at Northwestern are “much more open-minded” than people in his home state, and most empathize with his views.

“If I was back at home, I know for a fact that some of my friends would have voted for it and looked me in the eye and still said that they were my friend,” he said.

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