Same-Sex Marriage: Why It Needs to Happen

Civil marriage, in our society, is the primary way to recognize our most intimate, committed relationships. Both heterosexuals and homosexuals should be granted this right.

One argument that opponents of same-sex marriage make is that marriage is traditionally between a man and a woman. There is no such thing as a “traditional” marriage. Throughout history, there have been periods when concubines, polygamy, etc, were considered “traditional.” In recent history, it was untraditional for a black person to marry a white person, however it happens frequently now. Traditions don’t last forever and have to, and do, change at some point.

Another argument made is that the allowance of same-sex marriage is incompatible with many religious views. While this is one of the main arguments, it is ignorant to the fact that in the United States, church and state are completely different entities. Religion should not affect issues dealt with by the government, like marriage. The first amendment states that “a state may not establish a religion. The state may not take principles of religious beliefs from a religion, any religion, and establish it as the law applicable to all.” Also, interestingly enough, many churchgoers hold different opinions than their own church officials. For example, in the catholic church, while the Pope vehemently opposes gay marriage, 45% of Catholics support same-sex marriage, and only 43% oppose it.

Marriage is a legal union between two people, and if marriage affects federal benefits, it should be kept as a legal union. Marriage through the state and marriage through the church should not be considered the same thing. If a church does not want to marry a homosexual couple, it should have no effect on the couple being married by the state. The couple married by law should still receive the same benefits, both on the state level and the federal level, that a heterosexual couple receives by being married through the church.

Another common argument of those opposing gay marriage is one that involves reproduction. Opponents claim that the point of marriage is to have children. However, if this is the case, why are infertile women allowed to marry? Many couples are married and choose not to have children. Should they be forced into divorce? These couples possess the same “disability” that a homosexual couple possesses, yet are granted marriage licenses when homosexual couples are not.

The biggest roadblock to the legalization of same-sex marriage is morals. However, as decided in Supreme Court Case Lawrence vs. Texas, “moral disapproval” alone is not a suitable cause for discrimination. Morals seem to be the main reason people oppose same-sex marriage, but it has been decided that this is not a legitimate reason to discriminate against homosexuals. By not granting marriage licenses to homosexuals, unlawful discrimination is occurring.

Finally, it should be nobody else’s business to deny marriage between two men or two women who love each other and want to legalize their commitment. Legislators, governors, mayors, and justices should have no right to bar a couple from getting married just because they don’t feel that it is right. Marriage allows couples the right to do things from hospital visits or choosing a final resting place to filing joing tax returns and being able to cover a spouse under Social Security and Medicare. As seen in the recent Supreme Court case, if a homosexual partner chooses to leave a house they share to his or her would-be-spouse, they are forced to pay sometimes heavy estate taxes on it. A spouse in a heterosexual relationship would not have to do this. If a homosexual couple functions identically to a married heterosexual couple, it is not fair for one party to be granted these rights and the other to be denied them.

In some of my favorite words by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and to make a full circle to my first post “Marriage is a basic human right. You cannot tell people they cannot fall in love.” Homosexual couples should be allowed to get married.

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Advocacy Project WiP

Here’s what Eryn and I have been working on so far. We would have a visual display of pinwheels on campus and a website. We’ve made an actual website and have started formatting it how we want it to look and adding pictures and other things like that. So far, so good!

Audience: Students at PSU

Purpose: promote a smoke-free campus

Rhetorical Reasoning

Pinwheels are designed to be the “attention step.” Hopefully, with a large group of pinwheels in a prominent space, people will be curious about why they are there and what they represent. With this curiosity, students and faculty will either inspect the pinwheels (which will have our website printed on them) or will google it when they get home (and find our website). Also, Onward State (constantly linked to on Facebook) and the Daily Collegian will have articles about it, again, informing people of the cause and leading them to our website.

Why pinwheels?

The pinwheels will grab the attention of students, as they are something attractive and out of the ordinary. Also, pinwheels are driven by wind and air, so are a valid symbol of a clean-air campaign.

Why website?

A website is something that almost all people have access to. A website can have lots of information, pictures, and links. These days, most people do their work and even read the news online. Also, if we were to have chosen a video, poster, etc, it would have been a lot more difficult to make available to the public. We can post posters around campus, but were afraid it would just be “another poster” and go unnoticed. We also thought about a video, however it would be hard to make it as available to the students and faculty on campus. Yes, we could post it on Youtube, but how would we make it known? Not many people go to youtube and search for “smoke-free campus” videos, and if they did, there is no guarantee that our video would be one to come up. With a website, and link to it on the pinwheels and in both Onward State and The Daily Collegian, all people on campus would have the ability to find out more about our campaign.

Who will sponsor? and Why?

Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, specifically with the support of the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation will sponsor our campaign. Both are dedicated to nonsmokers’ rights, protection from exposure to secondhand smoke, and preventing tobacco addiction among youth. However, while the ANR lobbies the government and pursues an action-oriented program of policy and legislation, the Foundation focuses more on community and individuals. The ANR Foundation works with health departments, schools, hospitals, organizations, policy makers, etc. to prevent smoking and promote smoke free air. The ANR website devotes a large portion of their website to smoke-free workplaces, and has a page specifically for colleges and universities. This page even includes links for sample smoke-free campus policies, guides for college leaders, and steps for enacting a smoke-free campus policy. The ANR Foundation is extremely supportive of smoke-free communities as well as preventing tobacco addiction among youth, and therefore would be supportive of our campaign.


ANR Foundation:

Colleges and Universities page:

Mode – Smoke-Free Campus Campaign:

·      Students place pinwheels in ground (Old Main lawn) to show support for implementing a smoke-free campus. The objective here is to get the attention of PSU students, faculty, as well as community leaders. By placing a bunch of pinwheels in front of a high-traffic and well known area on campus, it will interest people and hopefully, get them to look into the cause and get them to participate. (See Rhetorical Reasoning)

·      Make a website that describes the campaign to make PSU a smoke free campus for people wanting to learn more about the campaign. (See Rhetorical Reasoning)

  • Website will include:

    • Home Page

      • Covers basic information about the campaign (e.g. What it is, Who is sponsoring it and who is implementing it, and why this campaign is necessary for Penn State)

      • Pictures!

    • Health Information

      • Includes why smoking is harmful to everyone, the risks that come with smoking, and the health benefits of not smoking

      • QuitLine information / Get help now to stop smoking references

    • Get Involved

      • Have a Sign the petition! page to have members of the Penn State community voice their opinion to have campus become smoke-free (submit petition to student government and president)

    • Contact Us

    • News

    • Maybe some other pages

·      Have Onward State and Daily Collegian publish articles about efforts to make PSU tobacco-free

We got the idea from the University of Central Florida’s participation in the “36th national Great American Smokeout, an American Cancer Society initiative that encourages adults to quit smoking.”

“UCF Health Services displayed 1,000 pinwheels at Memory Mall to promote clean air for everyone, and students took the pinwheels to show their support for UCF going smoke free. During a lunchtime flash mob, 100 students gathered to blow bubbles in the Student Union to show their support for clean air for everyone.”

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To Fall From the Clouds

Falling from the clouds is such a pleasant thought. It sounds so peaceful and pleasant and lovely and tranquil. But really, I hate to “fall from the clouds.” Maybe you do too, you do it every day. Every morning to be precise (or maybe every early afternoon for some people). Every morning, you “caes de las nubes.” Spanish speakers use “caer de las nubes,” or, “to fall from the clouds” as “to wake up.”

It’s not too hard to imagine where they got this from. After all, in English we say we’re among the clouds when we dream. Dreams are often depicted by clouds and blue skies and things high up. I thought about why there’s a connection between dreams and clouds, and came up with a few rough ideas. It is very possible that I came up with these similarities between clouds and dreams because I tried to, and isn’t the reason dreams are connected to clouds, but you never know. Clouds are very whimsical and carefree. Dreams are the same way. Dreams are all in your head, with nothing to bother them or affect them- it’s all you and your mind. Clouds are also very prone to change, and don’t stay the same for very long. I would only need one hand to count the numbers of times where my dreams have stayed on one, logical plot the entire time. Most of the time, the bank robber turns into a bumble bee and suddenly we’re in the middle of the ocean on a boat. Dreams change quickly and constantly. Finally, clouds, like dreams, can represent all kinds of emotions. There are dark clouds for bad dreams, and fluffy white clouds for happy dreams. There are thunder storm clouds for angry dreams and rain clouds for sad dreams.

Clouds and dreams actually do have a few things in common, but which came first? I think it’s a chicken and an egg question.

Anyway, enjoy falling from the clouds tomorrow morning!

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Advocacy Project

I will be working with Eryn on the advocacy project and we will be advocating a smoke-free campus policy for Penn State. Campuses all over the country have been implementing no-smoking or tobacco-free policies, and there are already over 1,129 campuses that have implemented these sorts of policies. While it may seem like a really hard thing to do at Penn State, considering that our campus is so large and we have so many students, it is definitely not impossible. Both University of Maryland and University of Michigan (both large state schools like Penn State) have no-smoking policies. And come on, are we really going to let Michigan beat us out? A smoke-free campus policy would benefit non-smokers and smokers alike, including all students, staff, faculty, and visitors. Also, it could improve the overall caliber of the university and save money. Also, Pennsylvania law states that all workplaces are smoke free. Is Penn State’s campus not a workplace for faculty and students alike?

The purpose of our project will be to advocate that Penn State adopts a smoke-free campus policy. Smoking is already banned in buildings, but this policy would ban it on all campus grounds as well. We will try to get students, faculty, and especially administration to support the idea.

Our focus on audience will be toward students. There are over 40,000 of us that attend Penn State University Park. If we all rally behind an idea and offer support for a new policy, the administration is likely to listen. When students want to make a difference, we can. There’s power in number, and number is definitely something that we have.   However, we will also reach out to, as stated above, faculty, staff, and administration.

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I’m Black with Envy

Your little sister just got the new iPhone, or your best friend got tickets to the concert you really wanted to go to. Maybe your brother met your favorite athlete or you had a friend that got to go to the Caribbean for Spring Break while you were stuck in the cold weather. Either way, you’re pretty jealous. In Spanish, they would say “Estar negro de envidia,” or, literally, I am black with envy. In English, we say I’m green with envy.  Why the difference? I’m not honestly positive. Taken without context, they’re both a little weird. People don’t turn black or green, at least not when they’re envious.

While unable to find any background on the Spanish idiom (no idea why they use black), I was able to find some background on why we, in English, turn green with envy. The origin of the saying goes back to the early Greeks. The Greeks believed that when you were jealous, you were “sick” with envy. They thought that jealousy caused a person’s body to create excess bile, therefore leaving a green tint in the person’s complexion. In the seventh century B.C., the poet Sappho used “green” to describe the complexion of a stricken lover. Perhaps the most famous reference to this idea is in Shakespeare’s Othello, when he refers to the “green-eyed monster” as envy.

What’s strange to me is that now the color green tends to be a very good thing. I guess a lot has changed since the early Greeks. We hear all about “going green,” or being environmentally friendly. The recycling sign is green and we all strive for green grass and green fields and all things green. Green often also means money and therefore wealth, something valued in our society.

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A Smoke-Free Campus

We’ve all been there- stuck behind a smoker walking to class. You breath in the smoke, it gets caught in your hair, and you can still smell it later. But these things are trivial compared to the harmful effects smoking can have on all of those involved.  Smoking not only affects the smoker, but also the entire campus. Colleges and Universities across the country are implementing smoke-free-campus policies. In these policies, indoor and outdoor smoking will be eliminated across the entire campus, and methods of enforcing the policy will be put into place.  As of January 2, 2013, at least 1,129 college or university campuses in the U.S. have adopted 100% smoke-free campus policies. Penn State should implement a similar policy for the health and safety of nonsmokers as well as smokers themselves, in addition to improving the quality of the school and campus.

A smoke-free campus policy should be implemented for non-smokers harmfully affected by the risks involved with secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke has been proven to have harmful effects in any amount. When there are smokers on campus, everybody is affected. This includes other students, faculty, staff, and even visitors. Across the country, the United States Census Bureau estimates that almost 20 million students enrolled in a degree-granting program, with almost 40,000 of them attending Penn State’s University Park, in addition to the faculty and staff that work at Penn State and other campuses all over the country (“Newsroom”). Cigarette smoke leads to air contamination, which in turn affects every one of these people. As US Surgeon General of 2006, Richard Carmona, said, “The debate is over. The science is clear: secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard” (TobaccoFreeOregon). Cigarette smoke sends more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that cause cancer into the air that those on campus breathe (“Secondhand Smoke Facts”). Also, exposure to secondhand smoke causes an estimated 3,400 lung cancer deaths each year among nonsmokers (“Secondhand Smoke Facts”). In addition to cancer, nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their heart disease risk by 25 to 30 percent (“Secondhand Smoke Facts”). Clearly, there is no “risk free” secondhand smoke- even the littlest bit is still harmful. It is not fair that those who make the decision to avoid tobacco and cigarettes are still exposed to the harmful effects it can have. All people have the right to choose what goes into their bodies, and how they want to take care of their health, and one person’s decision should not be allowed to jeopardize somebody else’s health. If smokers still want to choose to inhale tobacco into their bodies, they have the right to, but it should be done off campus. Four out of five students choose not to smoke (TobaccoFreeOregon). The choices and health of four students should not be altered and possibly harmed by one student. If someone chooses not to smoke to avoid the negative and harmful consequences it has, they should not have to risk them through secondhand smoke.

A key to decreasing the amount of smokers in the country is prevention, and a smoke-free campus would prevent many students from becoming lifelong smokers. Smoking is bad for one’s health, and something nobody should have to deal with. With a smoke-free campus policy, fewer students would face the risks of smoking, and the harmful health effects that come with it. The risk of tobacco use peaks between 18 to 25 years of age, or, the exact years when most students will be in college (“Colleges and Universities”). If a student is not allowed to smoke on their college campus, they will most likely not pick up a cigarette in the first place, and smoking will never become a habit. By banning the use of cigarettes in the years when a person is most at risk, the rate of smoking will greatly decrease, creating a healthier environment overall. A smoke-free campus could be the turning point in choosing not to use tobacco. Along with this, the number of smokers who initiate smoking after eighteen years of age has increased in the past few years (“Colleges and Universities”). If college campuses, like Penn State, adopted smoke-free campus policies to prevent smoking, we may be able to see that number begin to decrease again.

A smoke-free campus policy would not only decrease the likelihood that a student begins to smoke, but it would also decrease the number of students already choosing to smoke occasionaly. The progression from occasional, or social, smoking to daily smoking almost always occurs before the age of 26, again, during college years. By banning smoking on campus, this progression would be interrupted. A daily-smoking habit could be stopped before it happened. Fewer students would rely on cigarettes, and addiction could be stopped, therefore creating a healthier lifestyle for them. Without becoming daily smokers, they will have an easier time choosing not to smoke. This policy would be beneficial for those students who do not finish the progression, and will have a much easier time quitting in the future.

While much of the focus has been on the health of the student smokers, a no-smoking policy would be valuable for faculty smokers as well. It is very possible that a policy for a smoke-free campus could be that extra push that someone needs to finally quit. According to a Gallup poll that was done, 79% of all smokers wish they could quit. 59% of students stated that they had tried to quit in the last year (Saad). Eliminating smoking on campus would only facilitate the process of quitting. Making it harder to smoke only makes it easier to quit. Especially at Penn State, we have an incredibly large campus. In some buildings, it could be over a ten-minute walk just to get off campus to smoke for a few minutes, only to walk ten minutes back to an office. Smoking would be made extremely inconvenient, and would hopefully inspire more to quit, like the majority of smokers wish they could. The American Cancer Society reports that one of the most effective ways to get people to quit smoking, or at least to drastically cut back their smoking, is to prohibit smoking in the workplace. They have estimated that smoke-free workplaces bring about a 29% reduction in cigarette use (Saad). A smoke free workplace, or college campus, will help to reduce smoking.

Penn State is a dry campus, meaning that no alcohol is allowed on campus or in the residence halls. If the Penn State administration is looking out for the students’ health and safety by banning alcohol, why is tobacco still allowed on campus? While alcohol and smoking are both extremely harmful to one’s health, studies and statistics have shown that smoking contributes to more negative health effects than alcohol, as well as plays a role in more deaths. While about 2.5 million people die from alcohol each year, almost 6 million die from tobacco use. By 2020, tobacco is expected to account for ten percent of deaths worldwide, and alcohol is expected to account for 3.8 percent (“WHO Report: Smoking and Drinking Cause Millions of Deaths Worldwide”). It is clear that both substances are dangerous, but right now Penn State is protecting its students from only one, and not the most harmful one.

In 2008, the state of Pennsylvania followed suit of many other states in passing a law to ban smoking. Pennsylvania specifically banned smoking in all non-hospitality workplaces, but unfortunately still allows smoking in bars and casinos.  Due to these restrictions on public smoking across the country, more than a quarter of current smokers say they are smoking less, and this is not including former smokers who quit due to the new restrictions. Penn State is a workplace as well as a learning environment, and as stated earlier, creating smoke-free workplaces has strong impact on decreasing the amount of smoking. While Penn State does not allow smoking in its buildings, it is not only the buildings that should be considered the workplace. Often, “student” is considered an occupation. For students, a college campus is both a home and a workplace. Students should have the right to a smoke-free workplace, as all other workplaces in Pennsylvania. Students as well as the faculty members have to walk to different buildings as part of their jobs. If walking through campus is part of the job description, and smoking is banned in workplaces, smoking should be banned on all parts of campus. This will not only improve the health and safety of those on campus, but also follow the policies that Pennsylvania has created.

From a more administrative view, a smoke-free campus policy will save both time and money. First, and more obviously, without cigarettes on campus, time and money will not have to be spent picking up tobacco litter, like cigarette butts, or cleaning smoking areas. The staff that currently does it would not have to be paid for it, and could instead do something more productive and beneficial to the university. Universities would no longer have to take the time to deal with complaints about smoking on campus, because smoking on campus would no longer exist. Also, universities would no longer have possible legal liability for secondhand smoke, which in the case of an issue, could result in a large amount of money being saved. Although there has not yet been a college to face a secondhand smoke lawsuit, there have been plenty of similar cases in apartment buildings and other workplaces. For example, the Chauncey family, living in a condo, sued the homeowner’s association for continuing to allow smoking. Even after constant complaints, the homeowner’s association, other tenants, and neighbors did nothing to stop the smoking. The jury found that the homeowners association and management company were liable for breach of contract and negligence, and awarded the family $15,500 for both physical and emotional damage the secondhand smoke may have caused (Kalfus). Apartments and condos are just like residence halls, except residence halls may be even closer and fuller.  In New Orleans, a mother sued for the death of her child do to second hand smoke. The case was worth 4.5 million dollars. Her son, never having been a smoker, died of cancer after working in a workplace for 15 years that allowed smoking (Kultzman). Penn State, a workplace, could be in the same situation. Similar cases have occurred, and it’s only so much time until it happens on a college campus. The time and money saved on smoking could be put to better use in further developing and improving Penn State University.

Implementing a no-smoking policy could improve the overall caliber of the university. President Robert K. Knight of Clark University, a university with a tobacco-free campus, states, “Since becoming tobacco-free, our enrollment has increased,” a sentiment shared among many other colleges who have implemented similar policies. 69% of high school students said they would choose a smoke-free campus over one that allowed smoking (TobaccoFreeOregon). Victoria Galanopoulos, a student at Portland Community College offers an interesting perspective when she says, “In addition to representing students, I’m also a parent. Like many other parents, if given the choice, I would like to send my child to a college that provides a tobacco-free campus, and now we have that option” (TobaccoFreeOregon).  Penn State could see a higher selection of students to choose from, and improve the overall caliber of its students, and therefore the entire university. Knight not only considers the students and adds “there has been a strong demand in the community to use our facilities. Our transition to tobacco-free campus was a positive experience” (TobaccoFreeOregon). By banning smoking, the community will want to use the University’s facilities as well, creating a stronger relationship between the university and the community.

A smoke-free campus is a great idea, but the issue of how to enforce it arises. Most schools currently with a no-smoking policy in place offer a three-strike system. Often the discipline progresses from a warning for the first offense to a fine, usually around $20 for the second offense, or the option to clean up tobacco litter for a couple hours. On the third offense, the student is put on probation, where if offenses continue to occur, could lead to much harsher consequences, sometimes even expulsion. Especially in the early months after implementation, volunteers can simply walk up to smokers and ask them to put out their cigarettes, and educate them about the resources for quitting that are available to them. Some schools offer coupons for cheap nicotine replacements like nicotine or gum. By enforcing the smoke-free campus policy in this way, students would most likely choose to obey it. Penn State is a huge campus, so it is clear that not every single smoker would be caught every single time they smoked a cigarette, however, the policy and threat of punishment are still there, and most likely if the smoker continues to smoke, he or she will be caught. By having a clear, consistent method of enforcing the smoke-free campus policy, it would be a simple, positive policy to implement.

The big question about implementing a smoke-free campus policy is why not? If somebody, or a group of people, has the ability to improve the quality of living, why wouldn’t they take the opportunity? It has been proven over and over again how bad smoking, as well as secondhand smoke, it for one’s health. There are no benefits to smoking, only harmful, negative consequences. If the school can help to protect its students from these risks, it should. Maybe the school is worried about the backlash and criticism it would receive from those against the policy, and smokers specifically. However, in reality, three-quarters of people, including a majority of smokers, believe that it is okay for colleges to prohibit smoking on their campuses.

For the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff, as well as too improve the University as a whole, Penn State should implement a smoke-free campus policy. As President Joe Robertson of Oregon Health and Science University reports, “OHSU is committed to helping our employees, students, patients, volunteers, and visitors live longer and healthier lives- that’s why all OHSU properties are tobacco free.” Penn State should be as committed to helping those on campus live longer and healthier lives.  By banning smoking on campus, Penn State will only be encouraging a healthier, safer environment for its students, faculty, staff, and visitors, and improving the quality of life for many.


I added in the paragraph about the dry campus later… do you think it fits and is persuasive? Should I move it somewhere else? Thanks.

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Same-Sex Marriage: Happening NOW!

Same-sex marriage is HUGE in the news right now. I’m sure everybody has heard all about the fact that it’s made it to the Supreme Court. Even if you don’t keep up with current events, if you’ve checked your facebook once in the past five days, it’s been there too. Most of Facebook has turned into insults and heated discussions via comments under statuses and pictures. While it’s incredibly super exciting that equality becomes more and more possible every day, but there’s so much stuff being thrown around that it’s all a little bit overwhelming. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the court case and everything that’s going on with it (because there’s a lot) so my goal today is to maybe simplify it down so it’s a little bit easier to understand.

Who started it?

Edith Windsor, an 83 year old woman is suing the United States of America. Her wife, who she was engaged to for 40 years and married to for 4, just passed away, leaving her not only with a broken heart, but a hefty estate tax bill. As Edith says, if her wife Thea had been a Theo, she would not have to pay. The case is dealing with the part of the law that states that marriage is between a man and a woman for purposes of federal benefits.

What’s the big idea?

The case is dealing with the part of the law that states that marriage is between a man and a woman for purposes of federal benefits.   While some states allow gay marriage, or “domestic partnerships,” the debate is over marriage. A big part of it is whether or not these couples should be granted the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples. Also, they are fighting over equality not just in benefits, but in name and label. Gays should be allowed to get MARRIED, not just enter “unions” or “partnerships.”

Who’s playing?

One of the hardest parts for me about reading all of these articles is keeping track of who is who and what side they’re on.

-The Supreme Court Justices (obviously)- they’ll make the deciding factor in what the law will be. Four are thought to be aligned with a more conservative stand (man and women) while four seem to be okay with gay marriage. So, the big name you need to know is Justice Anthony Kennedy- he’s the swing vote.

-For equality: Meet General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., a solicitor who will spend time urging the justices to strike down the law. We also have Roberta A. Kaplan, Ms. Windsor’s lawyer, also clearly arguing for equality. Theodore Olsen. He’s an important one. A big-time conservative, legal hero, is fighting for gay marriage and against Proposition 8 (A California law stating that marriage is between a man and a woman). Sri Srinivasan, does not support the Defense of Marriage Act.

-For a man and a woman: Paul D. Clement will defend the idea that marriage is for a man and a woman. Charles J. Cooper: good friends (ex-friends?) with Theodore Olsen. He’s a strong lawyer representing Vicki C. Jackson- she’s not as much of a bad guy, but she’s arguing that the Supreme Court lacks the jurisdiction to hear the case. If this were the case, everything would remain the way it is now, which isn’t what we want.

Where does Obama come into play?

Up until 2011, the law stating that marriage is between a man and a woman was defended in courts. In 2011, it was announced that President Obama and the Attorney General decided the law was unconstitutional and unworthy of defense in courts. They did add that the law would continue to be enforced by the administration. The justice department filed an appeal saying that the decision should come from the Supreme Court (and look where it is now!).

What could happen?

There are three major outcomes to this case.

  1. The court upholds the law stating that marriage is between a man and a woman. If this happened, in those states that allow gay marriage, unions, etc, those couples would still be denied federal benefits.
  2. The court strikes down the law and legalizes gay marriage (yay!). If this happens, in states where same-sex marriage is allowed, the couples will be able to accept federal benefits. For example, Edith Windsor would not have to pay her estate tax.
  3. A less likely option, but the court could decide that it does not have the power to decide the issue, which would probably lead to the Obama administration no longer enforcing the law.

When will we know?

It is unlikely that the Supreme Court will make a decision before June, so we have some waiting to do. Keep your fingers crossed and send some positive vibes toward Washington D.C!

Hope that helped a little!


supporters protest in DC

supporters protest in DC



Edith Windsor

Edith Windsor



Both sides share their views

pixel (1)Sites:

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It’s a Cold of Dogs

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m getting awfully tired of this cold. Doesn’t mother nature realize it’s Spring, and that Easter is only days away? Either way, we all have our ways to describe the cold, and so do Spanish-speakers. Simply to say “it’s cold” would be “hace frio,” but 45 degrees can still be “hace frio.” What about when it’s really cold? When it’s snowing and the wind chill is below ten degrees? Well, there are idioms for that. One of them is “hace un frío de perros, or “it’s a cold of dogs”. Similarly, you can also use “hace un frío que pela,” or “it’s a cold that peels.”

We have all sorts of sayings to describe the cold. “It’s freezing.” “I’m chilled to the bone.” Or, as my roommate says, “We’re in an ice cube.” Saying something like this means more than just “it’s cold.” It’s colder than cold.

But back to the Spanish- a cold of dogs? What does that mean? Good question. What makes dogs get the cold? In general, Spanish speakers use “de perros” to refer to something unpleasant. Maybe it’s an unpleasant smell, an unpleasant situation, or, as in this case, unpleasant weather. My guess is that it goes back to when dogs were wilder, and you didn’t find one as the common household pet that cuddled on the couch and earned a stocking at Christmas time, or even traveled in a purse wearing a sweater. Dogs used to be dirty and smelly, and while loved, were often viewed as working partners, instead of the beloved members or our families.

So, no, dogs are not literally cold, but there was a time when they were unpleasant. And the cold that’s been going on for multiple months now is DEFINITELY unpleasant.

Just for fun…



and purses too!

and purses too!


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Persuasion Essay: Smokefree-Campus Policy


We’ve all been there- stuck behind a smoker walking to class. You breath in the smoke, it gets caught in your hair, and you can still smell it later. But these things are trivial compared to the harmful effects smoking can have on all of those involved. Colleges and Universities across the country are implementing smokefree-campus policies. In these policies, indoor and outdoor smoking will be eliminated across the entire campus. As of January 2, 2013, at least 1,129 college or university campuses in the U.S. have adopted 100% smokefree campus policies. Penn State should impliment a similar policy for the health and safety of nonsmokers as well as smokers themselves, in addition to improving the school and campus.

Why? –Persuasion

  • For the smokers
    • Risk of tobacco use peaks between 18-25 years of age- college years. If can’t smoke on campus, will most likely not pick up a cigarette in the first place
    • The number of smokers who initiate smoking after 18 has increased in the past years
    • Progression from occasional to daily smoking almost always occurs by age 26. Stop smoking before it becomes a daily habit.
    • Convenience- If smokers have to go out of their way, all the way off campus, to smoke, most probably will be less inclined to do it.
    • May be that extra push someone needs to finally quit
    • According to Gallup, 79% of smokers which they could quit
    • 59% of student smokers said they tried to quit in the last year
    • Would be doing them more of a favor
  • For those surrounding them
    • In 2010, there were more than 20 million students enrolled in degree-granting institutions. Plus faculty, staff, and visitors. All are affected.
    • Air contamination à health effects
    • Secondhand smoke
    • More than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer.
    • Secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 3,400 lung cancer deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States.
    • Second hand smoke can lead to birth defects
    • There is no risk-free second hand smoke. The littlest bit is still harmful
      • 4/5 students don’t smoke, they shouldn’t be exposed to it.
  • Why not?
    • Why not do it if you can? If you have the ability to improve the quality of living, why not take the opportunity?
    •  If we all know how bad smoking and secondhand smoke are for one’s health, why wouldn’t the school do something about it?
    • 2/3 of students report that they would prefer to attend a smokefree college
    • ¾ (including a majority of smokers) say it is okay for colleges to prohibit smoking on campus to keep secondhand smoke away from students and staff
  • Safety
    • Fire hazard
  • Policies
    • 48.6% of the US population is protected by a 100% smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar law. Others are protected by workplace and restaurant- like PA.
    • A college is a workplace for the faculty as well as a learning environment
    • Many consider “student” and occupation- is it our workplace too?
  • Time/money
    • Time and money are spent on picking up cigarette butts and cleaning smoking areas
    • Many colleges with non-smoking policies have seen enrollment increase, and more community involvement with facilities
    • 69% of students said they’d choose a smokefree college over one that allowed smoking
    • No more complaints about smoking on campus
    • Legal liability for secondhand smoke
  • Quotes
    • “Since becoming tobacco-free, our enrollment has increased and there has been a strong demand in the community to use our facilities. Our transition to a tobacco-free campus was a positive experience—one that we’ve been proud to share with other colleges across the country.”Robert K.Knight,President,Clark College
    • “In addition to representing students, I’m also a parent. Like many other parents, if given the choice, I would like to send my child to a college that provides a tobacco-free campus, and now we have that option.” Victoria Galanopoulos, student, Portland Community College
    • “OHSU is committed to helping our employees, students, patients, volunteers and visitors live longer and healthier lives—that’s why all OHSU properties are tobacco-free. By developing a simple, no-exceptions policy and smoking cessation support, we saw a dramatic decline in people smoking on campus.” Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A., President Oregon Health & Science University
    • “The debate is over. The science is clear: secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard.”  U.S. SurgeonGeneral Richard Carmona,2006

But how would you enforce it?

  • Most schools offer three strike systems, or something similar
  • Especially in early months after implementation, volunteers can simply walk up to smokers and ask them to put out there cigarettes, and educate them about the resources for quitting that are available to them.
  • Sample policies I’ve found are in steps
    • 1. Warning
    • 2. A fine (usually $15-$20) OR 2 hours of cleaning up tobacco litter
    • 3. Probation which eventually could lead to much harsher consequences (some schools even include expulsion)
    • Aware that not going to catch somebody every time they smoke, but the policy and the threat of punishment are still there, and if they continue to smoke, eventually will be caught.
    • The majority of the time, people choose to obey rules that are in place.
    • Offer resources for quitting. Some schools offer coupons for cheap nicotine replacements like patches or gum.
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From Such a Stick, Such a Splinter

You look just like your dad. “De tal palo, tal astilla.” You’re a star athlete just like your mom was when she was in college. “De tal palo, tal astilla.” Your dad loves his sweets and so does your brother. “De tal palo, tal astilla.” I think you can tell where I’m going with this.

“De tal palo, tal astilla” literally translates to “From such a stick, such a splinter.” In English we’d say “Like father, like son,” or, even better, “A chip off the old block.” This makes sense, the splinter comes from the stick- it’s made up of the same things the stick is, just smaller, maybe differently shaped, and in a new place. However, it still very much resembles the stick in both appearance and substance (or a better word for what’s on the inside). This is often how a parent-child relationship works. The child is different than the parent, but the resemblance between the two is apparent, and often very strong.

When a child is similar to the parent, we have lots of sayings to describe it. Like father like son. A chip off the old block. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Spitting image. All of these sayings describe our similarities to our parents. These can all be used in different contexts, however.

If the father was a star baseball player, and the son hit a home run, you wouldn’t want to say “wow, he’s a spitting image of his dad!” because in general, spitting images are more about physical appearance. Instead, “like father like son” or “a chip off the old block” might be more fitting. And vice versa.

Considering the way I usually hear it used, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” seems to have more of a negative connotation. She got pregnant young just like her mom did- the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Or something like that, something that is generally considered to be more negative.

It’s so interesting to me that idioms (otherwise arbitrary sayings) that mean the same thing STILL have different connotations and situations for when they should be used.

The Spanish language also has another way to say it,” Cual cuervo, tal su huevo,” or basically that the crow’s egg will be like him. As to which phrase should be used when, or if they have different connotations, I’m not sure. Maybe I can find out as I continue to learn more and more Spanish.

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