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Columbia Spectator Staff

Two weeks ago, the Columbia University Democrats protested at a major anti-gay rights conference at Columbia in order to show our support for equal rights for all people. The protest was a chance to show solidarity with the LGBT community and to make it clear that Columbia doesn't agree with hateful rhetoric that marginalizes members of our community. Our protest was part of our long commitment to equal rights and social justice, and today we are proud once again to give our support to full marriage equality for gays and lesbians. And this time we're proud to do it side by side with the Columbia University College Republicans.

It should be clear by now that preventing gay people from getting married based on their gender or sexual orientation is discrimination. It marginalizes millions of people and devalues countless families, and denying them the support that society would give any other family. Many students at Columbia were raised by loving and caring gay, lesbian, or transgender parents, and they see their families devalued by the law every day. Even more students will grow up to form families with same-sex partners, with whom they will raise their children in loving and supportive environments. To deny these families the same support that we would give any other family is cruel, bigoted, and a betrayal of our ideals of equality.

Bans on gay marriage can deny parents the right to adopt their children, prevent hospital visitation by loving spouses, and block countless government programs set up to help families. Just as marriage discrimination based on race is unconstitutional, marriage discrimination against LGBT couples denies a right solely on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. Individual churches and pastors are certainly free to refuse to recognize gay marriages, but the government is bound by inviolable guarantees of equal treatment and equal rights.

While there have been some unique arguments put forward in defense of marriage discrimination—for instance, from the lawyers for the House Republicans, who argue that gay people shouldn't be allowed to marry because they can't "produce unplanned and unintended offspring"—this is still an issue of equality and fairness that should go beyond politics. It's also worth noting that this isn't the first time that the meaning of marriage has changed. Most notably, bans on interracial marriage have been unconstitutional in all states since 1967.

It shouldn't be surprising that Democrats support equal rights. President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress have already repealed, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and they are working to repeal or overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. Activists have already ensured full marriage equality in nine states and D.C. and are on the road to victory in many more. And while we were disappointed to learn that many GOP clubs on Ivy League campuses, such as those of Princeton and Brown, are still resistant to gay marriage, many Republicans are starting to come around. We were proud to issue a joint statement with CUCR endorsing marriage equality on Valentine's Day. It emphasized that fundamental issues of human equality should go beyond politics, and we hope to continue to work with CUCR to support marriage equality.

The Columbia University Democrats are proud to once again endorse marriage equality and reaffirm our belief that all people are entitled to equality under the law. The CU Dems are going to keep fighting for marriage equality and LGBT rights until all families are welcomed and valued by society. It's going to be a long road, but it's a fight worth having, and it's a fight that we're going to win because of the support of our members and dedicated activists.

The author is a Columbia College sophomore majoring in political science. He is media director for the Columbia University Democrats.

To respond to this op-ed, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com

US Constitution marriage equality LGBT Don't Ask Don't Tell Defense of Marriage Act CU Dems congress
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