UCF students join nation to celebrate marriage equality
Last week, the world witnessed history in the making. People cheered, cried and, in light of the new decision, got married.
Supporters of marriage equality across the country erupted in colorful celebrations on June 26 when the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 ruling that same-sex marriage should be legalized in all 50 states.
On social media, the hashtag "LoveWins" trended on every platform, and major corporations, such as MasterCard, Pandora, Uber and YouTube, changed their Twitter icons to showcase a rainbow of colors to commend the occasion.
Students and faculty at UCF also expressed their excitement over the historic decision.
"The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision significantly and positively impacting the LGBTQ community of the University of Central Florida," said Karen Morrison, UCF's chief diversity officer. "By ruling that marriage discrimination against same-sex couples is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has put an exclamation point on the long struggle for equal access to the benefits of marriage — emotional, legal and financial."
She said the LGBTQ community and its advocates undoubtedly agreed with the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.
"Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right," Kennedy wrote.
In UCF's Department of Social Justice and Advocacy, the reaction from students and staff has been nothing but positive, said Grey Neal, a junior studio art major who works in the department.
"It means the government isn't enforcing the already societally enforced discrimination against our community," he said.
Emily Kutik, director of Pride Coalition on campus, said the staff and students at the Multicultural Student Center couldn't be happier over the Supreme Court's ruling.
"To me specifically, I saw it as a big amount of progress. It's definitely worth celebrating," the junior information technology major said.
Although she was overjoyed by the news, Kutik said she was surprised by how quickly the decision was made.
Obergefell v. Hodges was first brought to the Supreme Court in November 2014. Oral arguments in the case were heard in April of this year, and many were shocked by how quickly the issue was decided after it had been fought for so long.
"I turned on the news at 10 in the morning. It was everywhere. I was just so shocked and surprised," said Traveon Olden, a junior theatre studies major. "It was a dream come true."
For Olden, he said it feels like a weight has been lifted from his shoulders, and he's glad the country has finally jumped on the bandwagon to join the other nations that have already established marriage equality.
Although remarkable, many agreed that this ruling is only a stepping stone, not an end goal, in the fight for total equality.
A lack of impartiality in the workforce, rampant violence, racial discrimination and misconception and inadequate education are all major problems that are still faced by members of the LGBTQ community every day.
"There's just so much more to do still," Kutik said. "The next step would be not stopping."
In response to any critics of the decision, both Kutik and Olden said the naysayers really shouldn't be worrying.
"If they're not getting married, I don't see how it affects their marriages," Kutik said. "I don't see how it affects their lives at all."
Deanna Ferrante is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future.