Message from Cindy Konrad, Chair, LGBT* Committee and LGBT* Coordinator:
Hello LGBT* Committee members and friends,
This morning the Supreme Court released it’s decision about same-gender marriage rights, making same-gender marriage the law of the land.
“Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. He was joined in the ruling by justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel A. Alito Jr. each wrote a dissenting opinion.
This is an exciting day for LGBTQ* people and those who love and support us. Queer people around the country are celebrating, and important rights that have been kept from same-gender couples in many states are now accessible. You will see tears of joy among many who have fought for decades for this right. Our students are entering adulthood with access to a right that for many of us who have been around a bit was, until recently, unimaginable.
Your hard work supporting LGBTQ* and ally students and staff on this campus is part of the legacy of work that brings about increased rights for queer people. Even if you had nothing to do with this particular battle, you deserve cheers and kudos for your work creating space for LGBTQ* people to be their authentic selves on this campus and during one of the most important parts of students’ lives. Congratulations! I am honored to work alongside you supporting our students’ and colleagues’ growth and developing understanding.
However–and this is something that will likely get very little coverage in the media–the announcement is a mixed blessing for many queer people and allies in social justice movements who believe that marriage rights should have fallen lower on the priority list for LGBTQ* groups. A sizable group of queer people believe that extending non-discrimination rights to more LGB and especially trans* people, as well as other issues that deeply affect severely marginalized queer people, are a more urgent and important priority. Same-gender couples may now marry, but many queer youth, especially trans* youth of color, still live in a world where extreme street violence, severe unemployment, and shocking discrimination remain a daily occurrence. On our campus, marriage rights will not change the fact that we still have students struggling with isolation, microaggressions, and even homelessness.
Additionally, while most people in the U.S. will be nonplussed by the decision, like most were when marriage rights were extended in Wisconsin, those deeply opposed to same-gender marriage are incensed by the court’s decision. LGBTQ* people and rights may face backlash, as often happens when a marginalized group secures rights.
These are some things you might reflect upon or discuss with students, friends, and colleagues in the coming days.
If you’d like to read more about the decision–or if, like me, you’re a nerd who likes to read SCOTUS opinions in your free time–here are some resources to read and share:
Same-Sex Marriage Is a Right, Supreme Court Rules, 5-4
Supreme Court rules gay couples nationwide have a right to marry
Supreme Court Opinion
Cheers to all of you and to the dear colleagues and students we work to support on this historic day!
Cindy Konrad, LGBT Coordinator
Warhawk Connection Center
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
800 W. Main Street, UC 142A
Whitewater, WI 53190