Gay marriage divides students

TCU students are getting involved, taking sides and promoting awareness of an amendment dealing with same-sex marriage that voters will decide on Tuesday.”(The proposition) is taking a lot of rights away from a lot of people,” said Joanna Bernal, a sophomore news-editorial journalism major and a member of the TCU Gay-Straight Alliance.

“I just feel that the government should focus more on things like education,” she said. “They should focus their time more on things that are needed instead of things that are already being handled.”

The proposed amendment, which would ban gay marriage in Texas by adding a definition of marriage into the Texas Constitution, has generated heated debate.

Critics say there is no need for the amendment because Texas already bans gay marriage by law.

Supporters, however, say if the amendment is approved by voters and added into the constitution, it will be more difficult for courts to overturn.

If passed, Texas would join more than a dozen states that have adopted similar propositions into their constitutions.

In response to the debate, Gay-Straight Alliance is helping promote the “No Nonsense in November” campaign – a statewide campaign designed to promote awareness of Proposition 2.

The campaign is led by former Texas Rep. Glen Maxey, an openly gay legislator.

Bayliss Camp, an assistant professor of sociology, encouraged GSA to get involved in Maxey’s campaign against the proposition.

“I wanted to encourage the GSA to get involved in this first and foremost because I think it is important that students take the opportunity to exercise leadership in getting informed, in finding out more information (and) talking to their fellow students about this,” Camp said. “I think that’s really at the heart of what makes universities vibrant.”

The TCU Young Democrats have teamed up with GSA to promote awareness on campus of the proposed amendment.

TCU Young Democrats Vice President Mallory Bolduc, a junior political science and religion major, said she is opposed to the amendment because it sets a group of people up as outcasts.

“I think it obviously has a lot of implications beyond gay marriage,” she said. “I just think it’s wrong to outlaw gay marriage for a certain group of people.”

Both GSA and the Young Democrats have been speaking publicly on the issue.

In October, GSA set up a table in the Brown-Lupton Student Center where it registered people to vote and asked students who opposed the amendment to sign a pledge to vote against the amendment.

Bernal said 50 people signed pledge cards, and that GSA will e-mail the people who signed pledge cards and remind them to vote in the November election.

Members are speaking to various campus organizations and leadership groups promoting awareness.

Junior Will Thomas learned about the proposed amendment from GSA’s table.

He said he listened to GSA’s viewpoints and then reconsidered his own opinions in favor of the amendment.

Thomas, a junior political science major, said traditional families are very important, and common law couples may not deserve the same protection as straight couples.

“I come from the belief that people who live together don’t deserve the same rights as those going through life together,” he said.

Thomas said doesn’t believe the amendment will negatively affect heterosexual couples. He said he wonders how much of the talk about the amendment affecting heterosexual couples is “a ploy to get people opposed to it.”

Historically in Texas, voter turnout in elections where constitutional amendment referendums are presented without candidates up for election has been low, usually ranging between 4 percent and 14 percent.

Camp said it would be astonishing if turnout is above 14 percent.

Stephanie Klick, Tarrant County Republican Party chairman, said early voting turnout numbers have been higher this year than in 2001 and 2003, years with similar elections.

Camp said he encourages students to become educated and aware of the issue.

“I would hope TCU students would get all the information they can about the issue – that they would read the newspaper to find out all the information they could,” he said. “Voting is a tremendous responsibility.