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Although gay marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for over four years, members of the Harvard community still rejoiced at Friday’s announcement that California’s Supreme Court had made a similar decision and said they were cognizant of its profound implications.
Harvard Law professor Laurence H. Tribe ’62, who teaches constitutional law, said of the ruling, “It’s certainly going to shake things up, now that Massachusetts isn’t out on such a limb.”
But Tribe, who is also a former clerk for the California Supreme Court added that the ruling “is not going to start a bunch of dominoes,” emphasizing the diverse political climate of the nation and the fact that marriage laws are not binding across states.
Assistant Dean of the College Paul J. McLoughlin II—who married his partner Jason Shumaker the first night of the Massachusetts ruling for gay marriage—said he was “thrilled” about the California decision.
“It has far-reaching effects. It’s wonderful for California, but it’s also wonderful beyond California,” he said.
“The decision carries a lot of weight.”
He added, “More important than the decision itself is showing why same-sex marriage is no different than marriage between a man and a woman.”
Much of the Harvard student body also received the news warmly.
“I’m really excited,” said Michelle C. Kellaway ’10, co-chair of the Harvard-Radcliffe Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance.
“I think that California and Massachusetts were the most obvious states to legalize marriage first, but the more steps we take just add to the momentum,” she said.
Clayton W. Brooks III ’10, the administrative chair of the Harvard College Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Political Coalition called the news a “phenomenal step in the right direction.”
“Massachusetts was very vulnerable as the only state to allow gay marriage,” he added. “It’s my firm hope that people will see that things aren’t any different now that gay marriage is legal in California.”
But Brooks also said that just because the issue of gay marriage is receiving the most media attention, it is still critical to realize how much gay rights need to advance. He pointed to the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy,” as well as the current absence of federal anti-discrimination employment and hate crimes laws as areas that still have a long way to go.
—Staff writer Alexander B. Cohn can be reached at email@example.com.
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