To a packed crowd of students, faculty and local residents, Eric Porter, president of UVU’s Gay-Straight Alliance, tearfully stressed his point.
“To say that a homosexual couple can’t raise a child, or that one that is single cannot raise a loving family is completely false. We can’t use laws to deny rights of others.” said Porter.
Last Thursday afternoon the Ragan Theater filled beyond capacity for the same-sex marriage debate, proving the amount of concern and interest this issue can cause.
Enough people showed up that many were forced to leave due to fire code protocol.
Defending same-sex marriage on one side of the table was Eric Porter and Cheryl Jacques, former Mass. Senator and former president of the Human Rights Campaign. On the other side, Dr. A. Scott Loveless, executive director of the World Family Policy Center, and John Ure, UVU business management major opposing same-sex marriage.
Both sides were given sets amount of time to present their arguments, as well as time for rebuttals.
The first question involved the lack of biological evidence for homosexuality.
“It doesn’t matter if homosexuality is biologically or psychologically determined. No law should require anybody to change their sexual orientations just as we shouldn’t expect straight people to be gay to receive certain rights.” Porter said.
“The gay marriage proponents have been riding the coat-tails of the civil rights movement,” Dr. Loveless rebutted. “There is a big question of genetics involved here that suggests homosexuality is a choice.”
Jacques pointed out that since same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts, there have been no ill effects.
“Massachusetts still has the lowest divorce rate in the entire U.S. Gay marriage did not change that. The apocalyptic prediction has not occured,” Jacques said.
Ure argued that we should not just allow gay-marriage without proper time to study what effects it might have on society.
“We have not had enough time to study if homosexual marriages can have a good or bad effect on society. If studies show it can be a positive thing, then it can be something to talk about.” Ure said.
There were also arguments over defining the ideal family versus when the reality of the state of families seems to contrast the point.
Jacques argued that her loving relationship with her partner is just as valid as what is defined as traditional marriage.
“There are many benefits denied me and others in loving relationships, and even those who are given civil liberties, which are not recognized state to state, are not given all the rights as married couples,” Jacques said.
But Dr. Loveless argued that it was not the government’s job to give these rights.
“The U.S. doesn’t grant civil rights. Over the last 50 years there has been a new morality, and we have moved from Nashville law to something with many names like secular humanism, or moral relativism. Duties and secular law need to be adhered to,” Loveless said.
In the end, the debate proved to be, for the most part, respectful dialogue over a much contested issue where emotions tend to run high. The students and other attendees listened respectfully to both viewpoints, and the discussion helped them to better understand the complexities of this debate that has resurged with Proposition 8 on the ballot in California.
Perhaps the proponents of gay marriage at this debate summed up their concern best with the following question Jacques posed.
“We are at a crossroads, we are literally writing the next chapter in civil rights. The question is, what part will you play?”