World Learning welcomes the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court today holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, and striking down laws that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. As President Barack Obama stated, this ruling represents “a big step in our march toward equality,” “a victory for America,” and “a vindication of the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.”
As an institution committed to social justice, inclusion, and diversity, World Learning has long worked through its education, exchange, and global development programs to support all people in their struggle for equal treatment and protection under the law. World Learning President Donald Steinberg called the Supreme Court decision, “an historic recognition that all societies must respect, empower, and draw on the full contributions of the entire population, including the LGBT community, women, ethnic and religious minorities, persons with disabilities, and indigenous people.”
Attending a conference in Chicago hosted by LGBT leaders in higher education, SIT Provost John Lucas stated that “the room was resounding with applause as we just witnessed another major victory in human rights for our nation. Finally LGBT persons receive the same recognition and status for their marriages as any other individual. Coming to consciousness on this issue in rural Kansas in the 1980's, I did not believe I would see this day in my lifetime.”
World Learning General Counsel Lisa Rae, lead author on an amicus brief in the landmark 2003 case regarding the constitutionality of same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, added: “Today, we are one step closer to a world where each and every person is treated with fairness, compassion, dignity and respect under the law. I hope this decision today inspires even more positive change toward a more peaceful and just world.”
We hope this momentous decision from the Supreme Court today will give hope to those in our World Learning family across the globe who do not yet enjoy equal freedoms, and still incur violence and discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.