One of the top issues in the Presidential Election of 2016 will be gay marriage and gay rights. Though it was an issue in the 2012 election, it is expected that not only Democrats will be supporting gay marriage, but Republicans may as well.
This movement has many all across the United States standing up and supporting gay marriage including Republican Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who just recently endorsed same sex marriage. Portman was considered a top potential running mate for Mitt Romney in last year’s election, and his reason for supporting gay marriage is his son, who is gay.
Tyler Junior College has it’s own form of an LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender) group called SAGE, which stands for Straights And Gays for Equality.
“I’m happy that a lot of people are jumping on board and supporting gay marriage. That makes me really happy that there are more allies,” said Laura Odom, President of SAGE. “I’m happy because if gay marriage is passed, then I can get married, so it is a big deal for me.”
Odom said that gay marriage is the first step to a bigger issue. LGBT youth has the highest rates of suicide. According to lifesitesnews.com, teens and young people who identify as homosexual are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.
“It’s just not talked about as much as it should be. It’s not brought up to the forefront,” said Odom. “My main focus is helping people, and it’s kind of a big part of who I am. I want to help people and make them feel better, and sometimes it’s strange to me how people don’t see that.”
With the shift in society regarding gay marriage, Odom said she thinks that the outlook for gay marriage is changing.
“I think that more people are starting to realize that it’s not such a big deal. If they’re in love and they are happy, let them be happy,” said Odom.
“I’m all for equality, they should be able to have the same rights that other married people have both legally and financially. I don’t think my marriage would be any less valid,” said TJC student Brittney Dossey, who has been married to her husband for seven years.
Some students are still on the fence about their feelings toward marriage equality.
“It’s a tough call. Marriage should be between a man and a woman,” said TJC student, Zachary Parrish. “Then again, I have gay friends and I’m not going to tell them who they can and can’t date, but morally I’m against it.”
Odom thinks that over time people and Republican politicians who don’t agree with gay marriage will eventually sway towards same sex rights.
“Generally speaking, it might take a little more effort to pursue them, if they can be pursued at all…I think they need to realize that it’s going to hurt their party in the long run. And if they can put aside personal beliefs and focus on what the majority thinks and how we run our society. I don’t have a statistic on this either, but majority of Americans support same sex marriage,” said Odom.
According to Gallup Polls, 53 percent of Americans support gay marriage and 57 percent say that they have a family member or a close friend that is gay or lesbian.
SAGE says that after same sex marriage has been looked at the next thing to focus on is to help the youth by ending bullying and seeing the suicide rates among youth and LGBT youth decrease.
Laura Odom says that she wants to help everyone she can and that it’s a big part of who she is. SAGE has weekly meetings every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at the Ornelas Dorm in the Gold Room. Anyone is welcome to come.