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This Might Be Controversial

June 26, 2013 - Liz Skoczylas
Usually, I stay away from writing about things that might be controversial. As a reporter, I am often uncomfortable when I am asked for my opinion on a topic. A phrase I repeat often is, "I'm not paid to give my opinion." But, once I take my reporter hat off, I become Liz, and I do have opinions.

And so, after going back and forth with myself a little bit, I decided to write about today's Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage.

I debated writing about this topic, because I have learned over the years that once someone has an opinion, they are not likely to change. People have their values and beliefs, and it's not my place - or anyone else's - to determine whether they are correct. However, this is my view on the subject, and I'm not asking readers to agree or disagree... Just simply to think.

I went to a women's college.

The first week of school, my roommate, some friends and I got all dolled up to go to one of the area's many clubs. As we were leaving the dorm, a group of girls were sitting in the lobby asking people as they left, "Gay club or straight club?" We answered gay club, because we had heard it was THE place to be. Plus, there was going to be a drag show, which was obviously the way we wanted to kick off our first week of college. Anyway, apparently that was the right answer, because the group of girls met our group with cheers and high-fives as we walked out the door.

That night, at the "gay club," an announcement was made that there was a stabbing outside the club, near the entrance.

As silly as it might be, that night was the first time I really realized that there was a divide between straight and gay people, that some people don't see everyone as being "equal." And, it was the first time I understood the hatred that lives in some people. Welcome to college.

Being at a women's college, I quickly became friends with, you guessed it... other women. Some were straight. Some were loud and proud lesbians. Some were bisexual. Some were more quiet about their orientation. We all shared relationship drama, and, at times, straight up drama. But, together, when it came down to it, we were all educated women.

Human beings.

There are many arguments against gay marriage. However, the way I see it, the discussion should be on equal rights. Today's ruling threw out part of a law that denied hundreds of federal benefits to same-sex couples. Federal benefits. That is huge.

Last year, I interviewed Bob and Carole Reeder, of Chautauqua Institution, who have a son who has been living in Holland with his partner for more than 20 years now. Some of Bob Reeder's words have stuck with me over the last year.

"If an American citizen goes overseas, falls in love with and marries an opposite-sex person, they can bring their spouse back to America, they automatically get a green card, and they can automatically become an American," Bob Reeder said. "Gays can't do that. Our son can never live in the country he was born in with the partner he loves."

Heterosexual married couples enjoy more than 1,100 federal rights, which are denied to same-sex couples that are not permitted to marry in their home states. Currently, only 12 states and Washington, DC allow for same-sex couples to marry.

I have several gay and lesbian friends. Some of them have the same level of education as me. Some of them have more education than me. Some have been in committed relationships much longer than I have. So, my question is this: What makes me so special that I have federal rights - because I am married to a man - that they do not?

"It took a civil war, suffrage to get women's rights, civil rights legislation to give blacks rights. We think this struggle for equality of rights for gays and lesbians is hopefully the last big civil rights struggle in this country. Maybe, 20 years from now, it will be a non-issue. But, it certainly is important," Bob Reeder told me last year.

Yes. Today's Supreme Court ruling certainly IS important.



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