Debate over same-sex marriage -koe -jcr -dlh (effected bias removal in final paragraphs)

Katy Stanton

In last week’s edition of ********The Lawrentian********, Beth McHenry quoted College Democrat President Kass Kuehl, who said, “[the Lawrence voter turnout in the 2004 presidential election] proves that our campus, regardless of position and however quiet at times, is not apathetic.” Although most would agree with Kuehl, sometimes “apathetic” is the only term that comes to mind. We are a ceaselessly academically busy student body, and it often seems that it takes issues of national importance with equal national coverage to galvanize us into any sort of action or participation in non-required, non-academic events.
On Sunday night, Gay, Lesbian, Or Whatever and the Multicultural Affairs Committee sponsored a same-sex marriage debate in Youngchild 121, Lawrence’s biggest lecture hall *******– and barely one quarter of the seats were filled. This issue is taking hold of state legislatures across the country. Seventeen states have passed laws banning same-sex marriages already. And that time is fast approaching here in Wisconsin *******– if OKed by the state legislature, a referendum will come up on an April ballot statewide. It is time to start caring.
GLOW and the MCAC brought in two off campus speakers, Reverend Roger Bertschausen, a local Unitarian minister, and Juliaine Appling, a member of the Family Research Group of Wisconsin, based in Madison. Appling spoke first. The anti******{en dash]****same-sex marriage advocate claimed that, “we are losing a common good” if we choose not to maintain the “status quo” of sole legalization of marriage for heterosexual couples. She stressed that “marriage does not bend,” citing polygamous and polyandrous groups as the next dissenters of current marriage law: “[If we open up marriage to homosexuals] there is no logical stopping point.”
Her argument was mostly based on the welfare of children. She cited research that showed children of heterosexual parents experience a more positive, more constructive childhood than those from “other” households. She later admitted that there has been little research on the other side **********– studying children of homosexual households ********– but maintained that the biological or adopted children of heterosexual parents still faired better. Rather surprisingly, Appling left out the issue of the church and focused mainly on maintaining the status quo for the social good of posterity.
Bertschausen began his side of the debate by saying that he mostly agreed with Appling. He too believed that “committed life partnerships enhance the well-being of the couple, their children, and society.” He further agreed marriage does perpetuate the common, social good.
However, that is where their similarities ended. Berschausen stated that these partnerships apply to all people, despite their sexual orientation. He said he sees the disallowance of gay marriage as “governmental oppression,” akin to pre-civil rights movement racism. He further asserted that banning homosexual marriages “sows the seeds of violence,” keeping some Americans from their inalienable right of the pursuit of happiness. He pointed out that love and marriage are not zero-sum games, asking how a homosexual couple’s marriage and love could lessen the sanctity and truthfulness of a straight couples. According to the reverend, these marriages are two separate entities, related only by their common purpose: an expression of love and eternal faithfulness.
Both sides emphasized that they believed marriage encourages better citizenship, which, in turn, strengthens a community. However, that was the heart of their disagreement. While Appling sees society as falling apart because of too much freedom given, Bertschausen sees it falling apart because of too much freedom taken away.
Some call homophobia the last socially acceptable form of prejudice. Others think that the goodness and purity of our society will end if homosexuals are allowed to marry. The question is: Can there be a middle ground?
For Appling, there cannot be. Any rights granted to homosexuals concerning partnership rights are an assault on marriage and what it represents and has represented in this society. Bertschausen, too, suggested that civil unions or reciprocal rights ******– situations where the ever-blurred lines of church and state are completely removed from individual, personal choices ********– are only a temporarily acceptable compromise. As power continues to fluctuate between citizen and government, it is we, the voters, who in this democracy should have the final say. So what do you say, Lawrence voters: will you be apathetic come April?