Many American University students gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court on June 26th, 2015 to witness history. The justices ruled in a 5-4 vote in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples can marry nationwide, establishing a historic civil rights victory and giving gay rights advocates something to cheer about.
“When everyone was celebrating you could feel the love and joy everyone had,” said Diane Roznowski, a sophomore at American University who was on the steps of the Supreme Court when officials announced the decision. “It's hard to describe, but it was beautiful.”
For some students, the court ruling was a reflection of their passions in their majors. William McNamara, a senior studying law and society, acknowledged that the student body is relentless when it comes to spirited and fragile issues like these.
“Being a student of justice at AU has helped me to understand the issue better, as well as to understand that this intersects with a lot of other issues that haven't yet been resolved,” McNamara said. “I'm glad AU students will continue to push and engage with those issues.”
To other students, the ruling signified a specific state victory. Massachusetts-raised Matt Waskiewicz, a junior, took the victory as one that signified state dominance in the battle for gay rights advocates.
“We led the way on marriage equality so that eleven years later, love could win nationwide,” Waskiewicz said. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to declare same-sex marriage, being the sixth jurisdiction in the world.
Love did win, but others noted that the ruling did not achieve its full potential. They commented that the U.S. has a long way to go in terms of equality and discrimination for all LGBTQ Americans.
Guillermo Creamer, a senior who was raised in a devout Catholic, conservative household, acknowledged his sincere joy for himself and others but knows there is still more to do.
“There are so many issues facing these communities which still need attention…it’s important to celebrate this incredible victory, but remember the fight for equality does not end here.”
Roznowski also echoed that students need to confront these issues head on in light of the decision. “I think it's a great step…but it's only a step,” Roznowski said. “We need to focus on workplace protection and create non-discrimination laws for sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s time to get back to work.”