Gay rights debate becomes integral part of election

While the 2008 electoral debates focus on economic stability, the War on Iraq, and other foreign and economic issues, a significant matter has that taken the backseat is same-sex marriage. Though both candidates have mentioned the topic, many who are affected by the status quo of same-sex marriage have yet to hear a great deal of chatter from the candidates, even though the final campaign for presidency is still in its earlier stages.

The issue has been debated vigorously in the past few years in the United States, but federal government has recently taken a more cautious approach to the issue.

Though the government may allow states to choose their individual stances on same-sex marriages and civil unions, the Defense of Marriage Act still maintains that the federal government “may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states,” as prescribed by the second statute of the DOMA.

In the 2008 presidential election, Tech students agree that the topic of same-sex marriage and civil unions have received less notice than in the recent past. “Gay marriage may not be a priority in the election, but it still plays an important role,” says Charles Woodall, a second-year CS major. He also notes that the issue “shouldn’t be the main focus of this election. Regardless of the issue at hand, there are simply more important issues to address, such as the war and the current state of national security.”

Other students agree with the subdued nature of the subject, noting that aside from international and economic policy, some individual rights have been thoroughly highlighted. Lauren Hawkins, a second year MGT major, claims that, “if anything concerning individual rights has overpowered gay marriage, it would’ve been in the primaries between Obama and Clinton when Clinton nailed Obama for comments about Pennsylvanians hiding behind guns and religion.”

The candidates have not, however, left their views to mystery. Both candidates voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, which bans same-sex marriage in any part of the United States. Nirouz Elhammali, a second-year IAML major, has differentiated between the two candidates, explaining that “Obama is more forward in his support for civil unions. McCain simply believes states should decide individually whether or not to allow civil unions. Both candidates believe same-sex couples should receive legal benefits.”

She also criticizes McCain’s isolationist views, having “never read or heard McCain outwardly explain his view on whether he thinks same-sex unions should be legalized.” Elhammali continues, professing that “He has simply stated that he thinks their legality should be determined within the state. I would like to know what he thinks, not who he thinks should make the decision.”

As other policies concern the candidates, same-sex marriage should receive more attention if constituent voters stand either for or against same-sex marriage. While civil-unions and the aforementioned domestic partnerships may provide viable alternatives to the commonly religious concept of marriage, entire reform in federal legislature may change the rules of the game all together.

In June, many Atlanta locals at least heard of the Pride Month 2008 festivities, with decorations adorning many shops and streets. The unofficial month for “gay pride” by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, Pride Month 2008 events obviously featured protests against federal and state bans of same-sex marriage, and the propagation of legalizing same-sex marriage in more states. Though recognition of same-sex marriage is weak, the issue of same-sex marriage and civil unions will surely captivate more voters as the November elections arrive in the fall semester.