Americans hear about gay marriage and the controversy that surrounds the issue every day. It’s on the news constantly on a national scale, but we hear about it locally as well. College campuses are a perfect place for the conversation to arise. Elon does have a strong LGBTQ presence on campus and the recent Pendulum Vote Against article tells the story of a movement in North Carolina against the banning of gay marriage in the upcoming May 8 election.

Clearly, the rest of the nation is thinking about the issue as well. In 2008, a federal appeals panel in San Francisco ruled that Proposition 8 in California, which stated that marriage is between a man and a woman, was considered unconstitutional.

“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples,” said U.S. Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt in a Washington Post article in February 2008. “The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort.”

Thank you, Judge Reinhardt, for thinking logically. Although it has caused much backlash from conservatives, this ruling has created a precedent for other states in their rulings about the subject. For many Americans, such an act is considered radical. But should this decision really be left to the individual states?

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited the discrimination against African-Americans and women, which included racial segregation. This subject also brought about a lot of controversy in its time, but was ultimately was the decision of the federal government to bring and apply a standard to all of the United States.

So why is this similar issue of natural, human rights any different? The federal government should standardize this legislation for all U.S. states. California should, in turn, realize that it should be in favor of same-sex couples having the freedom to marry.

Americans are scared. We are scared of what might happen if such legislation is drawn up in Congress, finally deciding how America feels about the issue, no matter what side you might take. Right now, states are often stereotyped based on which side of the issue they fall on. If they’re for same-sex marriage, they are seen as more open-minded and socially aware. However, they are oftentimes made to suffer because of the constant battle.

This issue is dividing Americans, a nation of supposedly free-thinking people, and it needs to stop. In a time when our unemployment rates are high and our economy is unstable, the debate over who is legally entitled to marriage should be the last thing to be contested.