November 11, 2012

LGBTQ Cornell Students React to 2012 Elections

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The LGBTQ community and its allies celebrated several outcomes of Tuesday’s elections — including the legalization of same-sex marriage in several states and the election of the first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin (R-Wis.).

While some LGBTQ students at Cornell expressed excitement over the victories, others said that much more change has yet to be achieved for the LGBTQ community.

“Part of me is like, ‘Oh, that’s cool,’ it opens up the option [for LGBTQ citizens to get married],” Anthony Santa Maria ’13 said.

He said, however, that the legalization of marriage does not necessarily show that LGBTQ citizens have been conferred all the same rights as other citizens. “The idea that we have marriage equality … does this mean the same rights? In some states, there are still limits to tax rates, social security and insurance,” he said.Adam A. ’14 — who did not wish to be identified by his full name due to privacy reasons concerning his sexuality  — said that the legalization of same-sex marriage was a significant step forward for the LGBTQ community.“It’s a victory — it’s a step toward LGBTQ people in our country reaching full citizenship,” he said.Tuesday’s legalization of same-sex marriage in Maine, Maryland and Washington brings the number of states where gay marriage is legal to nine.Adam A. said that members of the LGBTQ community may still face difficulties if the legalization of gay marriage is not accompanied by a broader acceptance of LGBTQ people. He said that, without social change, the legalization of marriage could might not result in the immediate acceptance of same-sex couples.“Queer people always have to legitimize their relationship. This [marriage] might become another check mark [for legitimizing their relationship],” he said. Students reacted with a similar mixture of skepticism and excitement about the appointment of Baldwin, America’s first openly gay senator. Some students, while expressing joy at Baldwin’s victory, acknowledged that this was only the first step for LGBTQ representation in politics. “In terms of Tammy Baldwin, I do think it’s a victory for the LGBTQ community. Having a Senate that’s more representative of the American people is great, and something we should strive for,” Adam A. said. Shiliu Wang ’13 said that while Baldwin’s election was a step in the right direction, the Senate still has yet to fully reflect the diversity of the U.S.“As much as I acknowledge that this is a move in the right direction, I would like to see more women of color in Congress,” she said. Jadey Huray ’14 said that she thought Baldwin’s election was significant, especially compared to Singapore, where she is from.“Coming from a country like Singapore, where LGBT individuals are frequently closeted, it is unimaginable that LGBT folk would openly serve as politicians or people in other positions of authority. This is so progressive. It’s hard when you don’t see yourself represented [in the government], and have few role models,” she said.

Original Author: Jinjoo Lee