If any Occidental students logged onto their Facebook accounts over the last week, they may have noticed a trend of pink-and-red equal signs flooding their news feeds. According to Facebook, the original Human Rights Campaign image was shared over 70,000 times last week – the majority of which we can safely assume were shared by students and young adults. The image, a response to the Supreme Court hearings on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, has been a testament to the potential for today’s generation of students to dictate the prominence and intensity of critical social justice movements.
The modern, progressive student advocate is versatile and can serve as the base of support for various movements at any given moment – courtesy not only of social media tools but also effective grassroots mobilization efforts. Vote for Equality’s work during the past election was an example of Occidental students’ efforts to make grassroots difference, even when 2,000 miles separate an eighteen year-old college student from a forty year-old voter in Minnesota. Occidental students have continued to put their efforts to a positive use when confronting social issues.
Social progress won’t happen without a substantial amount of the country’s support, and it’s evident that today’s generation of students has taken charge of the movement toward marriage equality. Whereas the immigration reform movement has largely been perpetuated by the Latino-American community and its substantial voting influence, the gay-rights cause has depended upon a young generation, which overwhelmingly supports gay-rights, because it lacks a comparably influential contingency of LGBTQ voters. Just as the Latino-American vote threatens the political viability of those opposed to immigration reform, young people threaten the political viability of those opposed to gay-rights.
So as students sit and wait for the Supreme Court to release their Prop. 8 and DOMA decisions in June, there’s no reason to stop talking. There’s no reason to stop dissecting the issue, or making phone calls, or engaging in dialogue about one of the 21st century’s most crucial civil rights issues – even if that conversation begins with a profile picture change.
This editorial represents the collective opinion of the Occidental Weekly Editorial Board. Each week, the editorial board will publish its viewpoint on a matter relevant to the Occidental Community.
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