Kent State USG passes resolution to endorse statewide marriage equality

Photo submitted by Matt Chernesky.

Photo submitted by Matt Chernesky.

Blair Donald

Kent State’s Undergraduate Student Government passed a resolution last week officially endorsing equal marriage rights in Ohio. They are the first student government in the state to do so.

Matt Chernesky, a freshman political science major, first brought the issue to USG’s attention. He is the campus director for FreedomOhio, an organization dedicated to bringing marriage equality to Ohio.

Chernesky said he decided to bring FreedomOhio to the Kent campus because the students are “generally progressive and would be in favor of marriage equality, so it would be really fertile ground for a marriage equality signature gathering and campaigning.”

“[The issue] affects me personally because I believe that there is a fundamental right for marriage regardless of gender or your sexual orientation,” Chernesky said. “It’s like interracial marriage bans which faced the same thing, people saying this person can’t marry this person because of who they love. Why should I be told I can’t marry someone? And it’s not just me, it’s about the thousands of other Ohioans that also can’t get married.”

Marvin Logan, USG’s programming director, and Joe Bizjak, the USG director of governmental affairs, co-sponsored the resolution.

“I think the reason that USG decided to address this issue is simply because there’s a lot of momentum being put behind equality of marriage rights in the state.” Bizjak said. “It seemed like the correct time, the appropriate time to address this issue as a student government. And we can support it when it officially hits the ballot this November.”

Bizjak also said he was excited to be able to fulfill a campaign promise he made when he ran for USG last year.

“Last year when I ran for director of governmental affairs I promised, specifically to PRIDE! Kent, that I was going to address this issue of marriage equality. Not only did we address it, but we also endorsed it as a student government,” he said.

Logan said that he was proud to be the first student government in Ohio to address the issue.

“It speaks volumes of our undergraduate student government and the work that we’re willing to do to support students,” he said. “We’ve been leading the charge for several issues for students in Ohio, and this is just another. We want to be trendsetters and stand strong for our student body.”

The plan is to use USG’s endorsement as an example to other organizations to increase support for the issue, Chernesky said.

“I’m writing a declaration for support of marriage equality and I’m trying to get as many student organizations and Greek organizations as possible to sign on and show their support. And I eventually want to get in contact with the administration to see if Kent State will officially become the first public university in Ohio to come out in favor of it. I actually want to talk to the new incoming president Beverly Warren, because I know she has pro-LGBT stances from her time at Virginia Commonwealth University,” Chernesky said.

Chernesky said he hopes the endorsement will start a discussion and be the push Ohio needs to give every citizen equal marriage rights.

“I do believe it could start a discussion because we are the first and everything. It’s kind of like, ‘oh, Kent State did it so we should too.’ It definitely opens people’s eyes that we’re willing to take a stand on marriage equality.”

Contact Blair Donald at [email protected].