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Friends learned to agree to disagree on same-sex marriage debate

Published: Thursday, March 13, 2008

Updated: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 15:09

same sex.jpg

Andrea Caldwell

Glen Stanton took the opposing view on same-sex marriages during the debate Tuesday evening in the Student Union Tuesday.

same sex.jpg

Andrea Caldwell

Glen Stanton took the opposing view on same-sex marriages during the debate Tuesday evening in the Student Union Tuesday.


Minutes before Student Activities Board's Spring Lecture, "Same Sex Marriage- Civil Debate," Tuesday evening, John Corvino and Glen Stanton, the two presenters for the event, sat in the audience seats set up in the Centennial Ballroom smiling and talking. Around 6 o'clock, Jerrod Lockhart, assistant dean of students, welcomed students and faculty to the debate, with a topic he said had generated "much heat and little light." Both men had ascended to the stage and taken their seats.

John Corvino John Corvino, a philosophy professor from Wayne State University, was the first to give his opening statement. He initially stressed that while sometimes people are surprised to hear him refer to Stanton as his friend, the two share a commitment to "reasoned rigorous dialogue." He then began his comments by reading from Stanton's book "Marriage on Trial."

He said that the question of same-sex marriage was not a question of whether homosexuals can be loving parents, have caring relationships or are good people. He made five points for his argument. His argument's main point was that same-sex marriages are good for society.

According to Corvino, homosexual relationships do not take away from other people's happiness. "Society has an interest in happy relationships," Corvino said. He also said that homosexual marriage is good for the children.

While most homosexual couples don't have children, some do. "These children matter," said Corvino. "Same-sex marriage does not take children out of loving heterosexual homes."

Corvino then went on to talk about two things that marriage does. Legally, it creates next of kin. A person legally becomes family. The advantages of this range from visiting in the hospital to social security to American citizenship. Socially, marriage "says we're going to stand behind you and be a support net for you" to homosexual people.

Then, Corvino addressed reasons people oppose same-sex marriage. For the first reason, he addressed religion. He said that civil marriage and religious marriage are different things. Most people just happen to get both of them at the same time in our society. He does not think that same-sex marriage is a threat to traditional heterosexual marriage and asked, "Do we think if we support same-sex marriage, we will make heterosexual people give up on marriage?"

While some people argue that if we legalize one type of marriage, why not legalize polygamy, incest and bestiality, Corvino said that he did not understand why these were associated with homosexuality; all of them can be heterosexual or homosexual. Each change in marriage must be evaluated on its own merits.

Corvino does not feel that same-sex marriage is a threat to children or that it provides poor parenting. "We don't require that people prove they can be good parents before marriage," Corvino said.

Glen Stanton Glen Stanton began his opening statements by telling that he and Corvino often sit in the airport together and play "My Team, Your Team," a game where they spot people and try to determine their sexuality. He concluded the opening story with a humorous remark on how the gay community should share some of its fashion sense with the lesbian community.

Stanton, a member of the Christian organization Focus on the Family, said that he opposes same-sex marriage not because he is bigoted or doesn't like gays and lesbians, but because he is interested, as a Christian, in humanity. "I am interested in those things which contribute to human well-being and diminishing those that don't," said Stanton. He said that the argument on same-sex marriage was also an argument of same-sex parenting. He stated that he probably could not find anyone who would support a same-sex marriage bill that prevented same-sex parenting.

Same-sex marriage is problematic as a social institution because of the universality of marriage. Stanton stated that you could go anywhere on the globe at any point in time and see that everyone has a social institution similar to marriage as we know it.

This institution is "always between the two parts of humanity." What drives that, Stanton asked. "Nature enforces marriage as a heterosexual union," he said. He referred to same-sex marriage as an experiment. "A generation has never been raised in same sex homes," said Stanton. "We don't know how devastating it could be."

He said that the proposal for same-sex marriage is a hope that gender is not important to raising children. He pulled an advertisement from "The New Yorker" which showed a girl, "Little Ruthie," and her two mothers. "I have no doubt that Little Ruthie has two loving, caring mothers, but she will never have a dad," Stanton said.

Stanton told audience members he could prove what kind of a family each of them came from if they took their finger and placed it over their belly button. "You have a mother and a father somewhere." He also read a quote from Barack Obama that said, "Fatherhood does not stop at conception."

Stanton finished his opening comments by referring to an interview with Rosie O'Donnell by Diane Sawyer. According to Stanton, Sawyer asked O'Donnell whether her son asked why he didn't have a daddy. O'Donnell replied that she told her son if he had a daddy, he would not have a mommy like her. Stanton explained that this response is similar to saying, "You have a need and wish for a daddy, I have a need and wish for another mommy."

Responses "He makes an excellent case for traditional heterosexual marriage, but fails to make an argument against same-sex marriage," Corvino said. Corvino said that Stanton made the case that same-sex parents are suboptimal, but pointed out that suboptimal is not the same as bad. He said that although studies show children from parents with a certain education and income are shown to exceed others, our country does not require a certain degree or income level before having children.

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