Joy Deatherage

Marriage is a right reserved for a man and a woman, the final rally cry of left-wing fundamentalists right before the Supreme Court struck down individual state bans on marriage between two people of the same sex. 

June 25, 2015, Obergefell v. Hodges honored the constitutional right of all people to marry the person they love. Since 2015, the percentage of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) couples who have married has almost doubled. Prior to the Supreme Court decision in 2015, 38% LGBTQ couples reported being married, compared to 61% now. Eduardo Castilla-Ortiz and his husband Ken Castilla are included in that increase.  

The two have been together for 22 years and married for the last two years. Castilla-Ortiz pointed out many things about the Supreme Court decision.

“We could have been fine, not being married,” said Castilla-Ortiz. “But I couldn’t be fine not fighting for the right. Equality should come in all aspects.”

Ken noted being married made things “more liquid.” The couple now have the right to share employment benefits, financial responsibilities and are assured of their legal position as widower should one of them die.

Although more couples are taking advantage of their right to marry whomever they love, cultural acceptance of LGBTQ people and their lives has leveled off in recent years. According to Pew research in 2017, 61% support marriage between two people of the same sex, while 31% are opposed. 

However, economists at Ohio State University and Boston University say those numbers might not be correct. Research done in 2013 revealed substantial under-reporting of LGBTQ identity and behaviors. This under-reporting was attributed to social desirability bias, or the tendency for people to hide behaviors and attitudes viewed as outside “mainstream.” 

Shawna Harris, associate professor of communication and intimacy expert explains that social desirability bias can be rooted in social scripting.

“We are scripting people, we like patterns as a species. Patterns help us know how to respond in social situations,” Harris said. These patterns, in the form of 'scripts' represent 'mainstream.'" 

Dr. David McMahan, associate professor of communication and media expert explains “mainstream” based on Critical Cultural Theory. Critical Cultural Theory says certain members are privileged within a society. This privilege is maintained by “gatekeepers,” who keep underrepresented populations in a subordinate position by controlling what knowledge is shared via the media. The impact of shared knowledge presented in the form of ideas and accepted norms (“mainstream”) influences interpretation and molds how society makes sense of things and ultimately directs society to either value or de-value certain ideas.

“Unfortunately, people tend to believe that the mediated reality is the actual reality when, probably, it is not,” McMahan said.

Obergefell v. Hodges was a step toward equality for all people. However, the struggle is not over. In a 2015 poll conducted by GLAAD, an organization concerned with the right to fair, accurate, and inclusive reporting for LGBTQ people, revealed that 65% of LGBTQ people experience discrimination at their job.

"This trend supports the idea that people who respond to survey’s are inclined to provide the answer most prized by society, rather than an honest assessment of how they genuinely feel,” said psychology professor Gary Glunt.

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