Marriage equality supporters win debate, editor says

When you put religious conservatives, progressive liberals, and an audience of hundreds of passionate citizens in a room together to debate a controversial issue, you know it’s going to be an evening to remember, and the “Great Castro Valley Marriage Debate,” held in the Castro Valley Library on July 18, certainly was that.

It started off pretty routinely. It was a classic style debate, with three pro speakers, three con speakers and a moderator.

Representing the pro side were Billy Bradford, Rev. Dr. Arlene Nehring, and Dr. Irene Landaw, while the con side consisted of Stacy Spink, and Peter Hauer, and recent CVHS graduate Trinity Bustria. Reema Kakaday acted as the moderator, holding a sort of half-MC, half-crowd control role.

The audience itself was very diverse, spanning all ages, races, and, yes, sexual orientations.
The issue being debated? Whether or not homosexuals should be allowed to legally marry.

The con speakers gave their opening speeches first. Their plan of attack included long passages from the Bible, parallels between homosexuality and alcoholism and obesity, and calling gays “selfish hypocrites” out to get money.

Next up to the plate were the pro speakers. Bradford got the audience to their feet with his very first statement: “I am gay, and there is nothing wrong with that!” The other two speakers chimed in with their own arguments, pointing out that, among other things, “an adult has the legal right to marry another adult,” and that homosexuality is a biological trait some are born with, not something chosen, learned, or contagious.

After the speeches were over, the audience was allowed to ask questions of the speakers. One speaker asked the con speakers why they believed tolerance was detrimental to society. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” answered Hauer, who also said divorce, welfare money to poor single mothers, and feminism have greatly harmed society.

After many questions, both serious and bizarre, it was time for the concluding arguments.
Con speaker Bustria came right out and said that he believed that “homosexuality is a sin in God’s eyes,” but also said that he was trying to help homosexuals, and that he isn’t a “hater.”

Hauer said that if gays don’t want polygamy, then they are “intolerant, unfair, selfish hypocrites who only care about boosting their own self-esteem.” I think I heard some boos.

On the pro side, Landaw pointed out that divorce rates have gone down in states with marriage equality laws, and said humorously that “marriage is in trouble, but it’s not because of gays!” She also questioned why time, place, religion, race, or method didn’t make any difference in an official marriage, but for some reason sexuality was such a big deal.

Nehring, a lesbian, teared up as she told how every time she comes out, she receives hate mail.

“I got 99 problems, but being gay isn’t one of them!” joked Bradford before continuing to describe how all the LGBTQ community wants is social acceptance. He pointed out that even prisoners could get married, because the Supreme Court ruled that it was a fundamental right, and questioned why that didn’t apply to homosexuals.

More questions were posed to the speakers, but the core of the debate had finished. Although a vote wasn’t taken to determine the winner, the general consensus was pretty clear.

Both sides gave it their all, but the most compelling arguments were made by the pro side. The con’s core thesis drew directly from the Bible. This is wrong on so many levels. Such a tactic is not only exclusionary of people of different faiths, but moreover, it flies in the face of the separation of church and state. Consequently, they had no ground to stand on.

I truly think that there is no point in debating this issue. Homosexuals WILL marry; it’s just a matter of time. Here’s why:

It’s not a choice or a lifestyle. Did you just wake up one morning and decide to be heterosexual? No! They didn’t either, and there is nothing any gay marriage opponents can do to change that fact. And since there is no changing who they love, it makes no sense to deprive them of a basic civil right.

Also, they aren’t evil villains intent on destroying life as we know it. They are simply a portion of the population that wants the same basic civil rights the rest of us enjoy. What if people of different eye colors or skin colors or religions were told they weren’t allowed to marry? There would be a lot of uproar, and they would eventually get their basic rights returned to them. This issue is exactly the same, except the percentage of the population is much smaller, so they have to fight harder to be heard.

Furthermore, why is it any of our business who marries whom? If they’re happy and are good, tax-paying citizens, why should it matter? Yes, they can’t reproduce independently, but is that really such a bad thing in a world of almost 7 billion people? In fact, they tend to adopt children, which is widely viewed as socially beneficial.

People can disapprove of homosexuality all they want, but it is indefensible to argue that it is wrong to let these folks marry. What’s ironic to me is that most of the opposition is right-wing conservatives who say they hate government and value freedom, but when it comes to the grit of it – social issues – they are more than happy to expect government to step in and impose their own personal (and religious) beliefs on everyone.

It’s sad to me that it’s taking this long for homosexuals to get their rights, but I have faith (knock on wood) that justice will ultimately prevail.

3 thoughts on “Marriage equality supporters win debate, editor says

  • December 6, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    First and foremost, if you look right under the date and and author, it does say that the article is filed under “Opinions”. Given that, it should have been an indication that the article would not be objective. Second, not all news articles have to be objective, as long as it is made clear that the writer will be choosing a side on an issue. As an aside, even though objectivity is what we expect from news in any form, it isn’t always the case whether or not it is stated – for example, certain news outlets cater to certain political views, and thus focus on that slant: Huffington Post is a liberal commentary outlet, Fox News tends to be conservative, etc.

    I think that Miss Pellegrini here has set up her article well, in that she presents an objective recount of the debate first, and then goes into her own opinion of who was the victor of the debate. Just because you oppose her opinion does not give you the right to judge her for it, nor does the fact that this is a high school publication give you the right to think any less of her. You are not naive for your expectations, you are naive for underestimating individuals according to a simple number: her age. In fact, I find it completely childish of you for attacking a teenager – what does that say about your own maturity, Mr. Spink?

    If you really would like to defend your opinion, I suggest you do not attack the points she made and defend your own stance. Your vagueness as to what the other points were made for the pro-traditional marriage side is counter-productive. If your aim was to disagree rather than attack, you could’ve possibly open a platform to debate on this topic further in a civilized matter. But nope, you decided to hate, instead.

    And while I’m at it, I’ll humor you: I am twenty two years-old, and if you still consider me to be “too young” to comprehend social issues, I suggest you worry about yourself and how you find objective points on an issue before you make your own opinion. As a Women’s Studies student, you have only considered one part of what people often constitute as marriage: procreation. It’s only a relatively new idea that people would start marrying for love – go back a century or two and you would find that marriages were arranged or based upon social status, and the purpose was for procreation and economic stability. The hegemonic script of the nuclear family our society puts on us is still for economic and procreative purposes, but people are breaking out of that idea. If your point for bringing up Darwin is to say, “look, it’s not just religion that’s against it; Darwin is, too!”, well that’s not going to work. Not in my eyes. Looks like you need stronger evidence. Prove that there are acres and acres to stand upon if you so believe it; all I see is an islet.

  • December 6, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    While there are so many things about this comment that I would like to rip apart, I’m going to focus mainly on that final paragraph and why you think that it is apparently so farfetched the belief that high school students could actually — gasp– understand complex social issues that, in reality, aren’t even all that complex because people are being denied basic rights in the first place.

    As a high school senior, I am well aware that I am more worldly and involved than I was as an entering freshman. I know that my opinions about things have changed, and I know that I understand far more issues than I did at the age of 14. But even when I was 14, my issue was never that I was unable to grasp the issues of complex topics. Maybe I didn’t fully research them or look at the other side of an argument. But after /four years/ of learning about writing and the research process, I know how to present a story and issue much better than I did at a younger age. This is how it works for most high school students.

    And by the age of 17, we understand that complexity is important to a news story. Contrary to popular belief, teenagers are not immature idiots. We have a lot of ideas about the world because we’re still young enough to be hopeful and fair– unlike “older people” we haven’t been jaded, we are are obviously not as bitter as some people who shall remain nameless. Our young age does not mean that we are naive or inexperienced.

    The reporter of this story clearly went through a lot of trouble on reporting it, and I happen to think that they showed excellent objectivity. They presented the facts and waited until afterwards to add in their personal opinion, which is perfectly acceptable for an opinion article. Objectivity is not risking the integrity of the story with a bias, and the story was never actually affected by the journalist’s bias. Furthermore, the point of this was not meant to be an article that was only offering sole coverage of the event, and thought should have been clear as soon the journalist made a claim and then added in her supporting evidence.

    To me, it just sounds like you’re bitter that the journalist here did not agree with your view points, so you are attacking their professional work. Perhaps you ought to do a little more media research instead of blindly believing that teenagers are too young and immature and inexperienced to cover “a very complex social topic”.

  • December 1, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    So much for objective reporting….on the pro-traditional marriage side, only one person used the Bible or quoted scripture, and did so rather poorly, actually The other two based their arguments on entirely secular legal precedents, anthropology and biology. Assuming you believe in evolution, Darwin’s theories themselves (as objective a measure as can be had) clearly describe the trait of homosexuality as a biological negative. “No ground to stand on?” – plenty of ground, acres and acres. Just because one does not agree with a position does not render it unreasonable or indefensible.

    Yet the writer of this article says their “core thesis” was the Bible….was this person even listening? Seems doubtful. The writer’s last few paragraphs clearly indicate his/her mind was made up long before this “debate”, in which the audience was primarily the LGBT community – hardly a representation of our town – and it more closely resembled a gay pride rally than a debate.

    I understand this is a high school publication, and I suppose it is naive of me to expect those who are so young and inexperienced to fully understand all of the implications of a very complex social topic. However, regardless of the writer’s beliefs, some degree of objectivity would have been desirable.

    I hope the writer does better on his/her next assignment…….

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