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Opinion: Another step in the march toward equal rights made election night

Michael Bragg

Michael Bragg As Americans watched the numbers trickle in across the electoral board for the historic re-election of President Barack Obama, five states made a little history, as well.

Four of those states – Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington – all had a place on their ballot that dealt with same-sex marriage, and the people voted in favor of equal marriage.

Wisconsin welcomed Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay U.S. senator in American history, to the stage.
While Washington’s decision takes hold Dec. 6 and Maryland’s Jan.1, 2013, Maine’s still has to be approved by the governor in 30 days.

And although Minnesota’s electorate majority said “no” to an Amendment One that mirrored the same one passed in North Carolina a few months ago, gay marriage
is still illegal in Minnesota, according to Human Rights Campaign’s website.

But those five states’ victories are big steps toward equal rights.

“It really reflects the changing demographics in this country and that the electorate is as concerned with issues of social justice and fairness as it is economic issues,” said Mark Rasdorf, graduate assistant for the university’s LGBT Center.

It also helps the LGBT community that President Obama is the only sitting president to come out in support of marriage equality.

During his next four years, Obama has the possible opportunity of replacing three Supreme Court justices. Should Ruth Ginsberg retire, the liberal justice will be replaced by a like-minded individual.

And according to Forbes’ website, conservative Anthony Scalia has had talks of stepping down from the nation’s highest court, and if replaced, could make SCOTUS a predominately liberal court – a favorable sight to proponent ofs marriage equality if the issue makes it to the Supreme Court.

In the months leading up to election night, Minnesota, Washington and Maryland received support from two groups that are not generally associated with LGBT rights: the National Football League and hip-hop.

Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo both support equal rights and made their voices heard leading up to the 2012 election, according to The New York Times.

And Seattle-based rapper Macklemore created the track “Same Love,” discussing the absolute, necessary and justified reasoning for equal rights to everyone – particularly the rights of the LGBT community.

“My work here on campus with the LGBT Center has opened my eyes to that into the early years of the 21st century, full equality for the LGBT community is the new civil rights movement,” Rasdorf said. “I think last night’s election is sort of a testament to that, with Baldwin’s election and the passage for full equality for all of us.”

Everything seems to be leaning in favor of rights well deserved and long overdue for the LGBT community, but there is still work to be done and attitudes to change.
It’s only a matter of time until full equality – hopefully on the federal level – is achieved. But great things don’t get done when people just expect them to happen.

Bragg, a junior journalism and public relations major from Lillington, is the Editor-in-Chief.

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