Wednesday night, a small gathering of queer students and UCSB community members converged on Storke Plaza to celebrate the recent Massachusetts Supreme Court decision declaring bans on gay marriage to be unconstitutional.
Brandon Marich, a senior black studies and microbiology major and member of the Queer Student Union, organized the impromptu rally for students and community members to respond to the ruling.
“2003 has been an incredible year for queer rights,” Marich said, citing the U.S. Supreme Court decision to repeal state anti-sodomy laws, the ordination of an openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and Massachusetts’ Supreme Court decision on Tuesday.
Marich explained that, while the Massachusetts decision stated that “marriage, sexual intimacy and the establishment of a family are innate human rights, and as such the rights of marriage must be granted equally to same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex couples,” the ruling does not necessarily mean that gay couples will be allowed to marry in Massachusetts.
Marich said that the Massachusetts State Legislature might decide to implement a civil union or domestic partnership program. Marich described civil union and domestic partnership programs as “separate but equal” systems, and said they “don’t afford couples the federally granted rights of marriage.”
“They deny same-sex couples an important symbol of their love and commitment to each other – the marriage certificate,” he said.
Gary Reinecke, a senior business economy and sociology major, spoke next, denouncing the “religious right” and the current presidential administration.
“The faith-based initiative explicitly denies equal access to rights,” Reinecke said. “The administration says to us [that] we are second-class citizens.”
Reinecke also mentioned the “traditional family values” movement, a conservative viewpoint on marriage and family dynamics. He referred to California Senator Pete Knight, who disowned his son for being gay.
“Isn’t that nice?” he said.
Kyle Richards, director of the Student Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, quoted a Virginia law that said “these type of marriages are an abomination.” He then quoted a California lawyer as saying, “these marriages involve the physically and mentally inferior, the dregs of society.” Richards went on to reveal that the quotes came from the 1960s and referred to interracial marriages.
“We’re on the right side and history will prove us right,” Richards said.
Stephanie Stillman, a Ph.D. graduate student in the Religious Studies Dept., said that it was wonderful to wake up Tuesday morning and see the news from Massachusetts.
“It’s an incredible feeling to know that your love is being legitimated in ways it never has been before,” she said.
Stillman’s partner, Summer Spisak, said that she was a little disappointed in the low turnout to the rally.
“But hopefully this will get things moving,” she said.
Miguel Mendoza, a senior global studies major, said he was going to use his voice to further the queer movement.
“No way in hell I’m going to be quiet,” Mendoza said. “We’re here and we’re fucking queer.”