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Outspoken: Ryan
James Kim

Outspoken: Ryan
James Kim


I had vowed to give up on all things political after 2004's presidential election. But that was before the issue of same-sex marriage came to Princeton University, where I am currently a sophomore studying economics. There I was, eating lunch in one of Princeton's high-ceilinged gothic dining halls, engaged in, well, politics. The student government had just narrowly decided to place the issue of same-sex marriage before the undergraduate population as part of its annual election of officers on

December 4, and I was trying to get several of my straight friends to vote in favor it.

Two questions were placed on the ballot. The first asked students if they support the right of gay couples to marry, and the second asked if the student government should sign the amicus brief submitted by the Princeton Justice Project on behalf of the plaintiffs in Lewis v. Harris--the same-sex couples seeking to marry in New Jersey.

It's not every day that a national issue like same-sex marriage penetrates what we students lovingly--or hatefully--call "the orange bubble." Indeed, even for an Ivy League school, Princeton has always had the image of being slightly conservative. So, bitterness from the '04 election aside, the chance to make a difference called, and I jumped.

I wasn't the only one. Support for the measures among Princeton's 4,700 students gained strength quickly, according to Christopher Lloyd, an out Princeton senior and the effort's project leader: "We weren't expecting it to be a big huge thing at first, [but] by the first five days we had nearly 300 undergraduates, a handful of alumni, and a handful of grad students in our database."

Opponents of same-sex marriage rallied too, but come election day a whopping 73% of the student body voted in support of same-sex marriage while 51.6% voted in favor of signing the amicus brief. We won. Granted, it may have little effect, but at least one thing has changed: I've decided to give up on giving up. Politics starts at the local level, over lunch, one friend at a time.

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