Local experts speak on gay marriage debate - Tucson News Now

Local experts speak on gay marriage debate

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Supreme Court took up the Proposition 8 case this week, a ban on same-sex marriage in California. It is now up to the high court justices to decide if California's law stands.

Prop 8 amended the California Constitution to limit valid and legally-recognized marriages to only those between one man and one woman.

On day one of the fight over same-sex marriage, the justices had their say in a case that could change history.

"They're arguing for a nationwide rule which applies to states other than California [and] that every state must allow marriage by same-sex couples," Justice Antonin Scalia said.

The case will decide whether a state ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional, so it has implications for states like Arizona, which has a similar law in place.

Two unmarried same-sex couples are fighting the California case.

"Labeling their most cherished relationship as second rate, different, unequal, and not okay," said Theodore Olson, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

On the other side are the supporters of Prop 8.

"We believe Prop 8 is constitutional and we believe the place for the decision to be made about redefining marriage is with the people, not with the courts," Attorney of Defense Charles Cooper said.

LGBT professors at the University of Arizona gave their say on the matter.

"You don't vote on people's rights. Rights are inherent, God given. They are who we are," Tom Buchanan said.

Buchanan is an LGBT Studies Director at the U of A. He married his partner of 15 years just last year in Canada. He describes his marriage as wonderful and something he never dreamed of.

"It's a real sense that what is ours really is ours, and that we are truly committed to this relationship for the long haul," Buchanan said.

A new poll shows that it's something the majority of Americans believe in. In fact, according to a CBS poll, 53% of Americans support same-sex marriage, a number that has gone up in recent years.

"You know there are TV shows, there are stories in the newspaper, more people are out.  It's more likely that somebody knows someone who is an LGBT person," said Dr. Susan Stryker, a UA Professor and LGBT Historian.

She says there are many reasons as to why the general population is getting used to LGBT people, starting with the Civil Rights movement after World War II.

And as new generations are born, she says the issue is becoming a thing of the past.

"People under 30 support marriage equality 80% to 20%.  Give it another 10 years and it's going to be a no-brainer to overturn those laws," she said.

But whether you are in favor of same-sex marriage or not, emotions will continue to run high as the Supreme Court gets ready for day two.

Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Rulings in both cases are expected in June.

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