State lawmaker applauds Supreme Court decision

A Florida lawmaker praised Wednesday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for same-sex couples to enjoy the same benefits as heterosexual couples in marriage.

With the 5-4 ruling in United States v. Windsor, the court declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, violated the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Created under former President Bill Clinton in 1996, DOMA defined marriage as a union between opposite-sex couples, barring states from recognizing same-sex marriages and denying them certain financial benefits that come with marriage.

The Supreme Court also ruled 5-4 that the defendants in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry had no legal grounds to bring their case before the court, keeping a lower court’s ruling that struck down the law banning same-sex marriage in California in place.

The decision allows same-sex couples the opportunity to receive the same benefits afforded to opposite-sex couples under federal law, including Social Security benefits, insurance benefits and tax filing.

Rep. Joe Saunders said he believes the Supreme Court’s ruling will have positive effects. Although it is unclear whether same-sex couples in Florida will enjoy the benefits due to the state’s ban on gay marriage, he acknowledged that there needs to be a shift in focus in Tallahassee to recognize the contributions that same-sex couples bring to the state.

“If we don’t right the ship in Florida, we’re going to lose them,” Saunders said. “We’re going to lose the tax dollars they send up to Tallahassee, and we’re going to lose the jobs that they help to create.”

Saunders introduced a bill earlier this year that would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Some Florida A&M students have no issue with same-sex marriage, such as Quateka Sellers, a senior biology student from Miami. She said you can’t control who you fall in love with, and people shouldn’t be concerned with others’ personal lives.

Jacobie Green, a senior physical therapy student from Forrest City, Ark., said he doesn’t like when Americans try to force their beliefs onto others, but he is OK with same-sex couples having the opportunity to get married as well.

“Everybody has the right to choose what it is they want to do,” Green said. “If that’s what makes you happy and makes your life full, then do that.”