Saturday, May 18, 2013

Marriage Equality Goes Viral

The past few weeks have sparred a vast political discussion at the U.S. Supreme Court. Hearings were held to debate California's controversial Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in the state, and the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by Congress in 1996, discriminating same-sex couples from federal recognition and marriage benefits.

Social media has joined the battle, as people from around the country used their own “voice” to support same-sex marriage. Although this public outcry may not significantly affect or influence the Supreme Court’s decision, the campaign still remained popular.

According to The Huffington Post, the equal sign logo, adopted by the Human Rights Campaign, became the unofficial badge for those who supported same-sex marriage. The yellow logo with blue background changed to a pink equal sign with a red backdrop as a metaphor for universal love. The image was shared over 77,000 times from the organization’s Facebook page.

Facebook reported that 2.7 million more people changed their profile picture on Tuesday, March 26, which was a 120 percent increase from the usual level. According to Facebook’s data, profile pictures were more apt to change in the Northeastern and Western United States, as opposed to the South.

As the country progresses to a more tolerant area on the political spectrum, a divide remains for same-sex marriage. According to the Pew Research Center, a poll conducted in October 2012 stated that 49 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage while 40 percent opposed it.

New England was on the skewed end of the spectrum. 62 percent of residents endorsed same-sex marriage, and 48 percent disproved. The southern portion of the country, however, was on the opposite side of the curve, with 35 percent and 21 percent agreeing and disagreeing respectively.

Additionally, those who lived in college towns were the most likely to change their profile pictures in favor of marriage equality. 73 percent of people between 18 and 29 years old said they favored it, while only 39 percent of people older than 65 did. Another poll, conducted by Gallup, showed that over 65 percent of those who attend religious services disagreed with same-sex marriage.

The University of New Hampshire is a moderately liberal institution due to its geographic location and student demographic. However, political affiliations do vary, and some young students disagree with marriage equality.

Thomas Raviele, a junior psychology major, is a member of the student organization known as Campus Crusade for Christ, or Cru. “From a Biblical standpoint, to which I adhere, homosexual conduct is sinful and a perversion of God’s intended sexuality for men and women,” Raviele said.

Raviele asserted marriage is defined as a conventional union between one man and one woman in the Old Testament Book of Genesis and reaffirmed by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Raviele believes that gays and lesbians can live however they choose, but they have no right to redefine marriage.

“People may think that nine people have the power to redefine the meaning of marriage, but no one can do that but God Himself,” Raviele said. “Ultimately it’s not an issue of ‘equality,’ because two things that are inherently different and unequal can never truly be equal.”

“I support marriage equality, not only because I am gay, but because I feel that anyone should be able to marry who they love,” said Joshua Soucie, a senior geography major.

“I hope the activity on Facebook is more than just a fad and that people are sincere and passionate about the issue,” Soucie said. “Although there are plenty of issues that need to be dealt with in the country and society, I feel it’s time that this issue is solved.”

Jessica Zappala, a junior English major, thinks it is about time governing authorities discuss marriage equality. “People should not have to limit their lifetime aspirations because of legislation regarding one’s personal lifestyle, especially in America,” Zappala said.

Zappala does not think it is anyone’s business to tell someone whom they can or cannot marry. She has family and friends who are gay, and she appreciates them for who they are while keeping an open mind.

“I think it is important to show acceptance and respect for everybody and make others aware that being gay is not a bad thing,” Zappala said. However, Zappala does not think people changing their Facebook profile picture is a useful way to get things done where it matters most — the Supreme Court.

Kaitlyn Morris, a junior social work major, also feels the Supreme Court should discuss same-sex marriage. “I support marriage equality 100 percent,” Morris said.

Morris thinks the Human Rights Campaign’s logo going viral is a notable gimmick. “It is a great way to raise awareness,” Morris said. “It signifies equality.”

Jaclyn Tomaszewski, a junior family studies major, supports marriage equality, because she thinks love is love. “I think it is great to see young people my age having such a passion for a social issue that affects many,” Tomaszewski said. “I think that the people who post these pictures are passionate about same-sex marriage awareness.”

Ryan Evelyn, a sophomore English and International Affairs dual-major, is glad there are groups actively fighting for his right to marry the person of his choosing. “It’s no one else’s business who I decide to marry,” Evelyn said. “This country isn’t a theocracy, so the argument that gay marriage defies the Bible should be irrelevant.” 

Evelyn knows who he is, and he is comfortable with the life he is living as a gay man. “I don’t need to prove a point to any bigot,” Evelyn said. “I’m comfortable with my sexuality and don’t hide it.”

James Turmel is a senior dual-majoring in speech therapy and theatre. “As a gay man, and an American citizen, I feel that it is my right to receive the same benefits and rights that my heterosexual counterparts receive.” Turmel said. 

Turmel believes that Proposition 8 and DOMA are discriminating, and it is a huge step forward to challenge them. “I think it is great that so many people seem to be coming out to show their support in this matter,” Turmel said.

Turmel thinks the Facebook profile picture change is just a trend, despite its symbolism to promote equality for all. “People will forget these matters are being discussed, and the profile picture change on Facebook will not last long at all.” 

“Me wanting to marry another man is in no way desecrating, demeaning, or destroying the sanctity of marriage,” Evelyn said. “It just doesn’t.”

“It makes me really sad, because these [same-sex marriage supporters] are so deceived,” Raviele said. “People’s approval of homosexual conduct and wanton disregard for the moral law that God Himself gave to us is a symptom of our broken and sinful human nature.”

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