As you spend another day on campus, look at the students around you and imagine a world where “all men are created equal.” It would be a world where a person’s sex, race, ethnic origin or sexual orientation is no longer a barrier or a catalyst of hate. Consider the fact that, with plenty of obstacles along the way, we are much closer to that reality than ever before.
On June 26, 2015, the United States of America took a giant leap to ensure that this great nation is making a valiant effort to prove that each individual has the same inalienable rights as any other individual.
On that day, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees that same-sex couples have the same right to marry their loved ones as their heterosexual counterparts.
“The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. Same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry,” according to Justice Kennedy delivered in the opinion of the Court.
Dunwoody student Anna Velez could not have been happier about the ruling. “I have a lot of gay friends and it was a really great day for America in my opinion.”
The celebration was mostly short lived right here in GSU’s backyard however after Senate Bill 284 or the “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA) is in process of being introduced and would amend the Official Code of Georgia to “prohibit discriminatory action against a person who believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such marriage.”
In less legal speak, the law would grant the right to those individuals, corporations and any organization with conservative religious beliefs, to discriminate against gay couples and their families but also extends to single parents, unmarried couples and even pregnant women. Your friends and fellow students could walk into something as simple as a flower shop and be denied a sale if the clerk or store owner simply because they are gay or an unwed pregnant woman.
The bill is authored, in direct reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision, by Georgia state Senator Greg Kirk from Americus, Georgia. Senator Kirk is also a former Southern Baptist pastor.
Demetrius Smith is an online student at Georgia State University Perimeter College and takes issue with what Senator Kirk is attempting to do with the bill. “I think this law is pure discrimination. We have numerous students who are gay, unmarried, single and probably pregnant. They wouldn’t be able to get the help they need in order to make it work for them,” said Smith.
Think about your friends and fellow students again and consider their background or what life has thrown their way. Now imagine a world where there are still people out there that want to treat them as second-class citizens because of people like Senator Kirk and legislation like Senate Bill 284. The Civil Rights Act and similar legislation led the way for change to protect the individual, but discrimination will always exist until some attitudes catch up to the law.