LEGAL EXPERTS DEBATE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

By Lucy Baugh
Valencia Voice

Thought provoking and highly topical debate came to Valencia’s East and West campuses last Tuesday, when two of the nation’s leading voices on the issue of same-sex marriage, Glenn T. Stanton and John F. Corvino, presented the opposing sides of the matter.

Kyle Beard, Valencia Voice

Kyle Beard, Valencia Voice

After a short introduction by West campus student development coordinator Victor M. Collazo, and some minor technical issues with the microphone system, Corvino, an advocate of same-sex marriage, opened the debate by stressing the importance of engaging in such discussion. Corvino, a philosophy professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., acknowledged that whilst he and Stanton disagree on the issue of same-sex marriage, they share a responsibility to offer reasoned and civil debate in order to better inform people.

In support of same-sex marriage, Corvino put forward that not only are alternative relationships good for people, they are ultimately good for society as a whole. According to Corvino, being in a happy and stable relationship encourages those individuals to “flourish as a citizen”, thus benefiting the larger community. Corvino stressed in his closing preliminary argument that giving marriage to homosexual couples does not mean that the right is taken away from heterosexual couples, and went on to say that we should “recognize, support and promote” same-sex marriage, likening the issue to that of female suffrage. Overall, he said:”same-sex marriage is a win-win situation. It’s good for people, It’s good for society.”

Next, Stanton took to the stage to present the opposing argument. Stanton also began by expressing the importance of debating the issue, which he said allowed for an “enriched democracy.” Stanton is a Senior Analyst for marriage and sexuality at Focus on the Family, an organization dedicated to supporting the traditional family unit. His argument placed huge emphasis on the way that same-sex marriage alters the traditional, “unmatchable benefit” that families with a mother and father have. Stanton was also keen to point out it was crucial for people to recognize that hatred and prejudice were not contributing factors in his opposition to same-sex marriage, as often people against the issue are misunderstood and interpreted as being discriminatory.

After both speakers had taken the allocated ten minutes to present preliminary arguments, each side had five minutes to counter the ideas that had just been presented. Corvino first responded, referring to the experience of a homosexual couple he knows very well, and their successful adoption of three children. He said of Stanton’s view that children are better off with both a mother and father, “In a world where thousands of children are deprived of parents, it is morally irresponsible to suggest that same-sex marriage families are depriving children, when they too offer love and support.” Stanton then countered by stating that he did not wish to deprive same-sex couples of having the same rights as heterosexual couples, but said that “we should not redefine the established and traditional definition of the family unit.”

Shortly after the speakers responded to each other’s arguments, the debate was opened up to the group of 25 participants. Both Corvino and Stanton received challenging questions from Valencia students and other participants, particularly from one prospective Valencia student, Dylan Schwartz of Winter Garden. Schwartz challenged Stanton’s anti same-sex marriage view in particular, and later said “I feel that he side stepped my questions and definitely had inconsistencies in his argument.” Although Schwartz also pointed out that he had “a better understanding of the opposition to same-sex marriage” and that he appreciated the opinions of Stanton. He later said “I’m glad this debate came to campus and people were better enlightened of the issue, particularly with the impending election.”

Another Valencia student, Kettia Kapi, said: “I am not for gay marriage. I think the purpose of marriage is to have children. I think it’s confusing for people to understand so I am glad this debate happened.” Another participant, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed her concerns about the opposition to same-sex marriage. The 53 year old woman of Winter Park has been in a lesbian relationship for four years, after previously being married. Her husband passed away 20 years ago, and she explained, “I got married at 16, I did what everyone said I should do.”  She told of her difficulties, saying, “I am very active in my church community, If i come out I can no longer participate in church.” She later said of the debate, “I thought it was well presented, I thought both speakers were very open-minded.”

The debate continued well after it’s scheduled 2 p.m finish, with a number of students staying to talk personally to both Corvino and Stanton. Of the debate, Corvino said “The participation was very lively today, It was great.” Stanton added that it was “tremendously important for students to hear other students views, and understand why they think the way they do.”

Student development coordinator Collazo eventually brought the debate to a close, and said that he hoped many more topical discussions could take place at Valencia in the future.

Florida residents will have the opportunity to cast their vote about the way marriage is defined in Florida in the upcoming elections under amendment two, which seeks to protect the current definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Both Corvino and Stanton expressed that they hoped the debate would help people to determine how they would vote on this fundamental issue.