In last Friday’s landmark decision, the Supreme Court held that marriage is a fundamental right for members of the same sex. This decision extends the right to marry to all people, regardless of sex, in all 50 states.
When Proposition 8, a California-wide referenda on same-sex marriage, was being debated in my home state in 2008, I held signs on street corners to campaign for equal treatment for my family. We were devastated by the outcome of that vote, but we didn’t lose faith that we would one day secure the same rights granted to millions of Americans. That day was Friday.
The Court’s decision directly affects my family and the families of many here at Northeastern. Moreover, it represents a significant step forward in the fight for the rights of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) Northeastern students and alumni. This weekend is a time of celebration — a time to recognize the universality of love and the dignity of gay and lesbian people on our campus and in our country.
The equal protection of fundamental rights forms the bedrock of the Court’s decision. It is a decision that, in a reinterpretation of the words of Justice Anthony Kennedy, “respects our history and learns from it without allowing the past alone to rule the present.”
In our shared past at Northeastern, the Student Government Association (SGA) has, at times, taken progressive action on issues concerning our LGBTQ community:
In 1990, a time before discussion of LGBTQ issues was commonplace, Northeastern student senators voted to establish the first week in June as “NU Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Awareness Week.”
In 2012, Northeastern’s Student Senate voted overwhelmingly against bringing Chick-fil-A to campus, a response to the company’s public stance against same-sex marriage.
But student government has largely failed to meaningfully engage with the LGBTQ community on campus in recent years. It is incumbent upon all of us in student government to do more. Within SGA, efforts toward inclusivity and acceptance can start with us.
The SGA office at 332 Curry Student Center should be officially designated as an inclusive safe space where all members of Northeastern’s community, regardless of sexual or gender identity and expression, are encouraged to speak with members of their student government.
We should revive and update “Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Awareness Week,” making it inclusive of transgender students, refocusing it on pride instead of awareness and moving it to LGBTQ History Month in October during the fall semester.
We should establish partnerships and develop programming with NU Pride celebrating the rich history and present diversity of Northeastern’s LGBTQ community. With an office right next door, we should encourage working relationships between members of our two organizations.
We will continue to advocate for a Gender and Sexual Violence Resource Center on campus and universal access to gender-neutral bathrooms. We will work with Northeastern Residential Life to remove barriers to gender-neutral housing to ensure that any student who wants to live with students of a different gender has the chance to do so. We will help to publicize the LGBTQ Resource Center and other similar resources that currently exist on campus, and we will listen directly to LGBTQ students, seeking to understand the challenges they face.
Friday’s decision was an important step in the march towards equality for all, but we remain far from the finish line. I take this week to celebrate this historic milestone and redouble my efforts to serve all students of this vibrant Northeastern community.
Proud, as ever, of being a Husky.
– Elliot Horen, middler, Information Science and Business, Chief of Staff, SGA