Editorial: Celebrating “Gaypril,” discussing LGBTQ rights

Blooming flowers, warm sunshine, fresh-cut grass and rain showers are just a few things that people envision when they think of the month of April. However, when April rolls around these days at universities nationwide, the spring month is now dubbed “Gaypril.”
“Gaypril” is a time when Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) pride is celebrated at schools all over the country. For the third April in a row, Rider’s Spectrum Pride Alliance has hosted a number of events to promote LGBTQ equality and educate students about the LGBTQ community.
Events this year included Marriage vs. Civil Unions: The Marriage Game, in which people were paired into “same-sex couples” and went around the room answering questions about the benefits they would or wouldn’t receive in different states. There was also the Rank-a-State Equality game in which students ranked the 50 states and D.C. from best to worst on LGBTQ equality and followed up with a discussion of what was found.
Junior elementary education major Patrick Callahan, president of the Spectrum Pride Alliance, believes that many of these events have made a difference on campus.
“I don’t just assume this; I have been told this personally by multiple students on campus,” he said. “Seeing such an active LGBTQ organization on campus is comforting to students who may still be in the closet, and it can prove to be extremely educational to allies. Even students who are openly LGBT will learn new things at our meetings and events.”
The “Gaypril” activities also offer the opportunity for students and staff to be trained for the Ally Program. The program allows volunteers to become allies with students who are a part of the LGBTQ community. These allies provide support and give advice to  LGBTQ students on Rider’s campuses. Becoming an ally gives these students a safe and nonjudgmental friend they can talk to whenever. The program is a great idea: Many students and young adults sometimes need to find someone to speak with and get advice from; but many have a hard time doing so. Rider’s allies are specifically trained to support LGBTQ students, and are available every day.
According to Callahan, as of last week, the Ally Program officially has 52 trained allies who are either students or staff members. Additionally, allies from Spectrum’s Executive Board are available every day in the New World Resource Center of the Bart Luedeke Center for any student who might need to talk to someone.
These “Gaypril” events are beneficial to many people in the Rider community. Not only do they teach people on campus about the LGBTQ society, but they also reinforce the importance of equality. The fight for marriage equality has been in the news a lot lately because of the Supreme Court deliberating Hollingsworth v. Perry, a case that will determine if gays and lesbians can legally get married in California, and U.S. v. Windsor testing the constitutionality of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Even though Rider is working toward LGBTQ rights, New Jersey members of the LGBTQ community still do not have the same rights as everyone else. This leaves us behind nine states, D.C. and 14 nations (most recently this week, France) that have already made same-sex marriage legal and written into law. Same-sex marriages are still not performed in New Jersey, and same-sex couples are only allowed to have civil unions.
Civil unions seem degrading in a way. These unions are as close to marriage as same-sex couples can get; however, because they are not the same as a “regular” marriage they make these couples seem like second-class citizens and not as equal as other couples. No matter what the government may say, civil unions are not even close to being equal to marriage. According to now.org, marriage is recognized by governments all over the world while civil unions are recognized only by state governments and couples are only protected at a state level.
The right to get married should be available to everyone, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation. Love is love, no matter how you look at it, and same-sex couples shouldn’t be penalized because they are different from the couples that some in our society consider “normal.”

The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the
Opinion Editor Danielle Gittleman

Printed in the 4/26/13 edition.

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