Legalizing Gay Marriage: An Inevitable Outcome?

by Margarita Diaz, Communications Director

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The opinions expressed in this piece are solely the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the BU College Democrats at large. 

On February 12th, the lower house of the French National Assembly, with backing from President Francois Hollande, passed Marriage for All, a bill that would not only legalize gay marriage, but also allow same sex couples to adopt children. Just six days earlier, on February 5th, Great Britain’s House of Commons, led by Prime Minister David Cameron’s Coalition government, voted 400 to 175 in favor of similar marriage equality legislation. While both bills must still endure committee hearings and long debates in their respective upper houses, they are likely to become law.

This, without a doubt, is progress.

At the time of writing, eleven countries – Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa and Sweden – allow same-sex couples to marry. With France and Britain on the cusp of passing equal marriage legislation, isn’t it only a matter of time before all of the United States follows suit?

I have heard repeatedly from people of differing political affiliations that the legalization of gay marriage in the United States on the Federal level is inevitable; that it’s the direction our country is heading in, and that somewhere in the not-so-distant future those who vehemently oppose it will be relegated to the fringes of public opinion.

But when you pick things apart, that kind of mentality is pure complacency.

In a commentary on the passage of the UK’s marriage equality bill, The Independent’s Owen Jones remarked, “It was huge sacrifice that got us here. Never forget it.” While the French and British governments have moved in a progressive direction, neither achievement was without volumes of contention and backlash, ranging from the conservative Members of the British Parliament who gave grandiose speeches likening gay marriage to incest, to the 800,000 person protests for traditional marriage outside the National Assembly in Paris. In the case of France, the Marriage for All bill passed by virtue of the Left’s majority in the Assembly, carried by a slim margin of 100 votes, out of more than 530.

So what now for the United States? In a country with divided political opinion, where LGBT rights have been granted at a slower, more segmented pace, more extreme voices of opposition reap the benefits of a political system that hands them a large megaphone.

But against all odds, the tide is slowly but surely turing. A recent Gallup poll shows that US public opinion on marriage equality is swaying, with about 53% of all Americans currently in support of same-sex couples’ right to marry. Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s extension of benefits to same-sex partners of military personnel, as well as President Obama’s historic endorsement of marriage equality in May of last year, proves that America has achieved progress that would have been unthinkable as recently as decade ago.

Indeed, the United States has made significant strides toward marriage equality, but we still face a long haul. Proposition 8 still awaits hearing before the United States Supreme Court. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church continue to march under the slogan “God Hates Fags.” And, while the victories in the United Kingdom and France are cause for optimism, I remain convinced that we will never achieve marriage equality without hard work, strong voices, and consistent advocacy. President Obama himself said that marriage equality can only be achieved “step by step, law by law, mind by changing mind.”

We’ve got to keep going.

Photo credit: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

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Room for Compromise in Immigration Debate

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by Emma Brandon, Vice President

“Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving,
hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity,” proclaimed President
Obama in his second inaugural address. This proclamation kicked off a firestorm of
activity in the White House and on Capitol Hill to find the better way that the President
had demanded.

The White House came out with a plan that included strengthening borders,
cracking down on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, and a path to
citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the country. The path to citizenship
element of the President’s proposal is by far the most controversial and misunderstood
element. Obama’s plan would require that immigrants pass security and criminal
background checks; pay taxes; learn English; and “go to the back of the line” for green
cards.

A bi-partisan group of Senators quickly formed a “Gang of 8” in response
to the President’s proposal and wrote their own immigration reform proposal. The
“Gang of 8”’s proposal includes strikingly similar plans to the President’s proposal
on strengthening borders and the hiring of illegal immigrants but differs greatly on its
prioritization and ideas on a path to citizenship. The plan contains a provision for a
similar path to citizenship only after it can be proven that the borders are secure. The
“Gang of 8” also proposes the creation of a commission of Governors, Mayors, and
Attorneys General from states that are along the United States’ Southwestern border to
determine whether this condition has been met and whether it is now time to establish a
path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are currently in the country.

The major sticking point for Republicans in the House of Representatives
appears to also be the President’s proposal of a path to citizenship. The current House
Republican position is not clearly defined and is evolving as hearings on the subject
in House Judiciary Committee that began on Tuesday, February 5 continue. Many
leading Republicans such as Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)
have wondered aloud whether there is a middle ground between a path to citizenship and
mass deportation. Goodlatte has suggested that the answer may be legal residency for
current undocumented immigrants but there has been no consensus House Republican
plan on the issue. This relatively moderate position demonstrates that there is room for
compromise although the fact that a recent AP-Gfk poll has shown that more than 6 in
10 Americans support a path to citizenship may be a sign that the President need not
compromise on this issue.

The BU Dems Invade Taunton

Freshman Representative Emily Prescott recaps the BU Dems’ weekend of door knocking at the 2012 CDM Campaign Invasion in Taunton.

by Emily Prescott

On the morning of September 22nd, 7 fearless members of the BU Dems woke up early, grabbed coffee at their respective café favorites, and hiked over to Tufts before embarking on a bus with Harvard and Emerson. So began a weekend of door knocking for democracy, as we were on our way to the CDM Taunton campaign invasion.

The event’s itinerary included lunch at home base, a brief training session in the fine art of canvassing, and an address from Massachusetts state senator, Mark Pacheco, as well as local candidate Sharry Costa Hanlon. We jumped into volunteer cars (it was a very transportation focused weekend) and set off to canvass.

After knocking on doors and ringing doorbells for a few hours, we headed to the hotel where this year’s Fearless Freshman had an opportunity to bond over our experiences of the day and conveniently similar political beliefs. The next day ushered in phase two of canvassing and a bus ride back to Harvard Square where we were given the chance to hang out with the Harvard democrats.

Going to Taunton was an immensely rewarding and exciting opportunity. It was many of our first
experiences with canvassing and it was great to become involved in something so close to the
community. Personally, I loved being able to really talk to people in Massachusetts about something I
care about with students from other schools around the Commonwealth.

Overall, Taunton was a great experience and we’re all riled up and ready to go for future canvassing
adventures!

Get Involved with the BU Dems this month!

We have come so far. We have seen so much. But there’s so much more to do.

– President Barack Obama

We are getting closer and closer to the November elections, but there is still much to be done! Here are some ways you can get involved with the BU Democrats this month:

• October 4th: Join us for a viewing of the first presidential debate in CAS 226 & 235 after our weekly meeting! (more info here)
• October 10th: BU Phone Bank for Joe Kennedy in South Campus (more info here)
• October 11th: Vice Presidential debate viewing party right after our weekly meeting.
• October 13th: Obama for America GOTV Training (place and time TBD but find info here)
• October 20th – 21st: CDM Campaign Invasion Weekend in Plymouth! (more info here)

Need to register to vote? Catch us at our voter registration tables in West Campus on October 5, 8, 10, 15, and 16.

And as always, we have our weekly meetings on Thursdays in CAS 226.

Hope to see you at an event soon!

Elizabeth Warren Rally at Morse Auditorium!

by Margarita Diaz 

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The BU College Democrats had the honor of hosting a rally for US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren at Morse Auditorium on Saturday, September 15th.

Fired up Warren supporters from BU and all over Massachusetts came out early Saturday morning in muggy weather to line up in front of Morse, while volunteers proudly held up signs around the Blandford T stop on both sides of Comm Ave!

Anticipation buzzed through the auditorium as it filled to capacity. Beginning with a stunning introduction from the BU Dems’ president Caitlin Mauk, attendees got the chance to hear from Congressman Mike Capuano and Governor Deval Patrick before a rousing speech from the woman of the hour.

Here are some of the BU Dems’ favorite quotes from the speeches:

Congressman Mike Capuano:

“We need to remind people what’s at stake. How serious it is. It’s not just another election.”

“Like Democrats believe, I cannot do this on my own. I need you — we need Elizabeth Warren.”

Governor Deval Patrick:

“I have had the great privilege to serve this Commonwealth as your governor. And I am proud of what we have done together. I have never asked you to look the other way at hard choices. I have never ever asked you to agree with me and the choices I’ve made in every case. What I have asked you to do is turn to each other, but not ON each other.  We have to be about lifting the whole Commonwealth up, not tearing each other down. That we have to look ahead to another generation, not just at the here and now.”

“There are just a few days left. Knock on doors. Call people. Talk to people: your friends, family, co-workers, your neighbors. People that don’t already agree with us. Go walk up to that door with the other guy’s sign on the lawn and say, ‘I’m with you, and you need to be with us. And you need to be with the candidate that is with us, and that is Elizabeth Warren.'”

Check out the Governor’s entire speech here!

Elizabeth Warren:

“Scott Brown voted against three jobs bills. Paychecks to be spent on our families, paychecks to be spent in businesses here in Massachusetts. Me, I want to go to Washington to fight for jobs for us.”

“There are two competing visions here. These are about our values. And the vision of my Republican opponent and the Republican party can be boiled down to this: I got mine, the rest of you are on your own. We are a better people than that. We are better than that. We are a people who believe in the future. We’ve seen this happen before in America. We came out of a great depression, and what did we do as a people? We invested. We invested in ourselves, we invested in our kids, we invested in our future.”

Check out the entirety of Warren’s speech here!