Q&A: A Gay Youth Perspective On DOMA and Prop 8

Jessa Nootbaar is a 16-year-old rising high school junior at the College Preparatory School in Oakland and is from Walnut Creek, California. She said she is very passionate about LGBT rights and is a lesbian herself. With the recent Supreme Court decision regarding gay marriage, Nootbaar had some strong opinions on what this would mean for her future and the futures of other LGBT youth. After Vanguard’s trip to the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco on the day of the historic decision, Nootbaar gave her perspective on the impact of the Court’s decision.

Q: Describe your relationship to the movement.

A: My relationship to the movement is that I’m gay, so it has a big impact on my future and I also have a lot of friends who are LGBTQ who it affects.

Q: How do you feel about DOMA and Prop 8?

A: I’m really happy that they were ruled in a way that’s going to benefit the people they affect. Something that I’m not as happy about is the fact that the Supreme Court didn’t take the opportunity to give a broader ruling that would have more of an impact on the nation as a whole. I think that what they did was good but they could have done more.

Q: What was your reaction to the decision?

A: I was at first very happy but I also wasn’t that surprised because I met [Sandy Stier], who was [part of] one of the lesbian couples who sued the state because she came to talk at our school. She told us she was very confident that they were going to rule that Prop 8 was unconstitutional.

Q: Why specifically did she think that Prop 8 would be ruled unconstitutional?

A: Her side had more witnesses, evidence and statistics.

Q: What has been your reaction to all the opponents such as the Westboro Baptist Church, etc.?

A: I don’t really care because it did pass, so, “sorry if that offends you but that’s what happened.” Eventually, more and more people will grow to support it and more and more states will legalize it.

Q: Will this affect you personally? If so, how?

A: I think it’s nice to know, since I’ve lived in California for almost all my life and I think it’s a really beautiful state, [that] I could get married here. I could get married the same place my parents were married. I think [I have] a certainty about [my] future and my options and a nice feeling of acceptance and progress.

Q: What does this mean for the nation and the world?

A: It’s comforting and inspirational to someone who might live in a country that has very strict rules against being gay or against gay marriage. It’s a futuristic place of acceptance.

Q: How does your young age give you a unique perspective of the issue?

A: I think it’s important that going into adulthood you have the option. That gives you more accessibility and pride. It’s much easier to embrace yourself when you’ve grown up in a world where [being gay] is more accepted.You can be one of the people who makes a change. In the future, you can look back when you’re 70 years old and think this was a big movement for change in our country and I was there to witness it and I helped it. We went through a struggle and I worked hard to get to the life and the freedoms that I have now.

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