Panel to discuss effect of DOMA in Kentucky

Katherine Sproles

More than a month ago, the Supreme Court ruled a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and allowed a lower court’s ruling that struck down California’s Proposition 8 ballot.

Now, several WKU departments and student groups have aligned with local and statewide sponsors to host a discussion titled “Beyond DOMA: What the recent Supreme Court decision means for Marriage Equality in Kentucky and beyond.”

“Beyond DOMA” will be held today from 5 to 7 p.m. in Snell Hall 2113.

One of the discussion topics will center on federal and state citizenship.

Panelist Patricia Minter, associate professor of history and faculty regent, and panelist Kristi Branham, assistant professor of diversity & community studies, will both speak at the event.

“I am a legal historian by training,” Minter said. “So I will be focusing on marriage equality and fairness laws at local, state and national levels and how those laws have changed over time.”

Calling marriage equality the “civil rights issue of our time,” Minter emphasized how important it is for students to attend the discussion.

“Through research we have seen that the college age group supports the idea of marriage equality,” she said. “It will be an opportunity to be a part of a very interesting dialogue.”

Branham said she thinks the discussion will be a great learning opportunity, “especially for the community to come together and talk about an issue that’s important to everyone.”

Branham also plans to share her personal story and experiences as a gay woman in the United States.

Minter and Branham said the event can be educational for students to learn more about the Supreme Court decision.

“The issue is both simple and complicated,” Minter said. “Justice Kennedy wrote that in places where it’s legal it will remain legal and recognized, but that’s only thirteen states and the District of Columbia. In states like Kentucky where there is a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman, how will it be recognized here?”