Same-sex couples denied federal benefits

The Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments from the Obama administration against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) later this month.

DOMA is a federal law passed in 1996 stating legal marriage is to be between one man and one woman. The law’s specifications prohibit gay and lesbian couples from receiving Social Security, pension and family medical leave protections, according to a report by CNN.

“I just really don’t understand it,” sophomore Talon Ice said. “If they have a marriage license, which is really for government purposes only, how do they not qualify for the same things other married couples do? It should not matter what your sex is. How could a homosexual couple not be of equal standings?”

Ice said most modern marriages are for tax purposes anyway.

“Why can’t two men or two women who are in love be married and get the same tax benefits as the rest of us?” Ice said.

Junior David Pitman said he agrees with DOMA because of certain qualities America’s founding fathers implemented.

“On the general basis that we were founded on, the federal government and state governments should take care of different things,” Pitman said. “One thing I was thinking about is that as a nation we were founded on Christian principles… These days obviously we’ve strayed away from it at a large degree.”

The Obama administration told CNN Friday, Feb. 22 that restricting gay and lesbian couples from receiving the same financial benefits as opposite-sex couples is unconstitutional.

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law… if we are truly created equal,” President Barack Obama said in his inaugural address last month.

California resident Edith Windsor, 83, will present her case during the hearings. Windsor married her female partner seven years ago in Canada and said she was forced to pay federal estate taxes equating to more than $350,000 because DOMA does not recognize her marriage. Windsor’s marriage is honored by California, her state of residence, though the federal government and state government did not agree on this legal matter.

The Supreme Court will hear Windsor’s case March 26.

Pitman said the federal government should not have an obligation to respect every state law.

“The fact that some states have decided to promote gay marriage and the federal government has decided not to honor that to the full length of a godly marriage, I would say I agree,” Pitman said. “A state can legislate whatever it wants, but I don’t think that necessitates that the federal government follows that.”

Another California case regarding Proposition 8, a voter-approved referendum from 2008 banning gay and lesbian marriages, will be heard later in the month as well. Proposition 8 was introduced after the state of California allowed same-sex couples to legally marry.

According to government sources in an article by CNN, the Justice Department has prepared a brief presenting a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry.

CNN reported Solicitor General Donald Verrilli spoke in the briefing of the Justice Department.

“Moral opposition to homosexuality, though it may reflect deeply held personal views, is not a legitimate policy objective that can justify unequal treatment of gay and lesbian people,” Verrilli said.

Ice said homosexuality is particularly discriminated against in certain regions of the United States.

“When you get down into the southern states and the Bible Belt, people discriminate and say, ‘Oh you’re that kind of people,’ and they won’t be treated as friends or as most other people would,” Ice said. “It’s the same way people discriminate against anyone, whether it’s about race, sex or anything.”

Ice said the issue of homosexuality has become an ignored subject at Oklahoma Christian University.

“At OC, the less we talk about [homosexuality] the better,” Ice said. “Most of the time when it gets brought up, people get offended just by the fact people are talking about it. Sometimes I feel like there are certain taboo subjects we can’t even talk about around here because we’re at OC and we live in this little bubble.”

Pitman said there are rumors of what students at Oklahoma Christian who may struggle with homosexuality are subject to.

“I’ve heard about how if someone is discovered to be homosexual they are forced to go through Celebrate Recovery or leave the school,” Pitman said. “I think neither of those solutions is really what Jesus would do if he were here. Jesus never forced anyone to stick around and listen to what he had to say on a certain issue.”

Pitman said the issue should be approached scripturally.

“I think we’re called to love one another,” Pitman said. “Homosexuality, I believe biblically, is on the same level as any other sin, and I think OC should show a little more love and maybe a little less structure in that area.”

Oklahoma Christian has policies on many issues. The most current Oklahoma Christian Student Handbook states that the university wishes to honor “God’s plan that sexual relations be a part of a marriage between a man and a woman,” and lists inspiration from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

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