Same Sex Couples Display In UWM Union Sheds Light On Controversial Topic

Black-and-white photos of smiling couples, family cook outs and cherished moments stand out in the bustling University of Wisconsin Milwaukee union.

Black-and-white photos of smiling couples, family cook outs and cherished moments stand out in the bustling University of Wisconsin Milwaukee union.

Families complete with two loving parents, children, and often time pets, explode from the black- and -white picture frames, as if they were all standing right there in the Union. It is hard to believe that so much love, happiness and depth could be captured into single photos; one is compelled to take a deeper look.

The portraits of same sex couples, displayed in the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s union from Nov. 17 thru the 21st, provoke the question of how UWM students feel about same sex marriage and civil unions.

Though many amendments have been passed to prevent gay marriage, younger people tend to be more in favor of it.

The display, organized by Jeff Pearcy and Will Fellows, focuses on same sex couples who have been together for seven years or more, due to the fact that the average heterosexual marriage lasts less than seven years.

Gay marriage has been a hot topic as of late. During the recent 2008 presidential election, California’s Proposition 8 was favorably voted yes. The proposition amends the state constitution to restrict the definition of marriage strictly between a man and a woman. The passing of the proposition overrides a decision made earlier in the year by the California Supreme Court that allowed same sex marriage as a fundamental right.

Today, same sex marriage is not recognized in the state of Wisconsin. In the fall of 2006, Wisconsin voted in favor of a ban on gay marriage and civil union between two non-married individuals.

UWM student views of the same sex couples display and Gay Marriage

Aubrey Howarth, a Marketing major and senior at UWM, can’t stop the grin from spreading across her face as she peers at the multiple pictures of happy couples smiling back at her. When asked if she supports gay marriage and civil union, without a doubt she replies, “I am in favor of gay marriage… You can’t help who you fall in love with.”

Aubrey states that the same sex couples display could be effective if, “More people would pay attention to it and not just walk by on their way to class.”

Anna Mable is an Elementary Education major and a sophomore at UWM, who feels that the display is a great way to shed light on everyday couples that aren’t recognized.

A pain of familiarity washes over Anna’s face when asked how she feels about gay marriage. She states that, “There is no such thing as gay marriage, there is only marriage between two people who are in love… [A gay marriage ban] is a violation of my constitutional rights; I will now have to leave my state in order to fulfill my dreams.”

Mable also states that, “It’s a shame that certain people don’t have the equalities that are offered by the American government. Hopefully one day we will truly be the land of the free.”

Though many young people are for the idea of gay marriage, some are a little apprehensive of the concept.

Steven Nelson is a freshman at UWM who is okay with homosexuality, yet uncertain about gay marriage.

He states that, “…As far as civil unions… I’m perfectly fine…but marriage is something that goes deeper…some people read the bible and say that [marriage] should be between a man and a woman…so I’m not sure.”

UWM Art Gallery managers’ reasoning behind the same sex couples display

Much thought and effort go into the displays in the UWM union.

Shannon Dosemagen is the Art Gallery manager at UWM who determines what artwork is placed in the Union. When asked why the exhibit was chosen for the union she states, “It’s an exhibition that is politically current… beause of Proposition eight…and also the heated debate surrounding same sex marriage…”

Dosemagen hopes to accomplish general awareness of the issues surrounding same sex marriage.

Dosemagen states that, “We use [that space] for art pieces that are publicly relevant…It kinda helps draw awareness.”

Expert comments on the current views on gay marriage

Paul Brewer, the author of Value War: Public Opinion and the Politics of Gay Rights, is also a professor of Journalism and Mass Communications at UWM.

Brewer declares that gay marriage has, “…changed in a positive direction over time although it’s still not positive in general…”

Brewer states that, “ If you look at surveys done 20 years ago…an overwhelming majority of Americans say that they’re against same sex marriage…now it’s not even half of the public that’s in favor…but it’s getting closer to half.”

Though marriage between same sex couples is still not favored by the majority, Brewer states that the public feels civil union is more acceptable.

As far as generational changes in viewpoints of gay marriage, Brewer says, “young people are much more likely to support gay marriage than older members of the public.”

The struggle continues

Though the smiling faces of same sex couples shine bright from the UWM union, many people are still uneasy about the whole debate surrounding same sex couples.

The topic of gay’s rights is definitely a touchy issue for many. The struggle continues full flame in today’s politics, with many different viewpoints.

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