Panel discusses same-sex marriage

Hillary Huber
Contributing Writer

In partnership with the University of Richmond School of Law and the First Freedom Center, VCU hosted a mock trial on Sunday that debated same-sex marriage in religion, public policy and the Constitution.

Virginia delegate Bob Marshall and VCU graduate Eric Huszar were opposed to gay marriage and civil unions, while Sarah Warbelow, the State Legislative Director for the Human Rights Campaign, and Cameron Hunt, a Queer Action member and in the Episcopal Discernment Process for ordination for priesthood, were supporters for gay marriage and the attainment of the same rights current heterosexual marriages are granted.

Delegate Bob Marshall began his argument with a discussion of equality, and whether or not legalizing gay marriage was a matter of treating all persons equally.

“The argument comes down to the legal sense, that the 14th Amendment requires that all people be treated equally. Well, treating persons equally is one thing. Treating actions equally is another,” Marshall said. “You cannot use the 14th Amendment to as a springboard to justify same-sex marriage.”

Warbelow argued that extending marital benefits to same-sex couples is about protecting children in same-sex households and those individuals who have made a commitment to each other for the rest of their lives

“What the LGBT community is asking for is the legal rights granted by both the state and federal government, all of those many, many benefits, and those obligations that come with marriage,” Warbelow said. “Last year in Florida, a lesbian couple was visiting, taking their children on vacation. They had a legal relationship out of Oregon, but the state of Florida refused to recognize that relationship, so her partner lay dying alone in a hospital bed in Florida. And she was not permitted, nor were her children, allowed to visit her (partner) by her bedside.”

Huszar said while he understood his opinion could come off as “homophobic” and might seem like he was “attacking” gays and lesbians, he believed that Christianity is very clear on the issue of homosexuality.

“The supermajority of Christians do believe that gays are people, just like anyone else, and deserve the same love, acceptance and support, despite what I said earlier when I described it earlier as sin,” Huszar said. He said that homosexuality is described as sin in the Bible, which he said is imperative to Christians because they should refrain from condoning sin, and supporting gay marriage would be doing just that.

Hunt argued that the most important aspect of Christianity is to teach God’s love. He said that while the bible is important to live by, many of the rules mentioned in the Bible are outdated.

“My mother is sitting right here, and it is perfectly within her rights to have sold me as a slave, according to Exodus, chapter 21, verse 7 … Then there’s the fact that I should’ve been killed a long time ago because Deuteronomy chapter 21, verse 21 and Leviticus chapter 20, verse nine, says that I should have been killed for speaking back to her, which, of course, I did numerous times,” Hunt said.

Marshall argued that a huge concern for gay marriage was defining what exactly marriage is. He said that if gender what eliminated from the definition, the number of people and the age of people should also not be regulated, which would thus permit “a 50-year-old to marry a 4-year-old,” and “bisexuals to marry two, three, four people.”

Warbelow wanted to set the record straight regarding bisexuality. “Bisexuality means a person is attracted to both men and women, and they do not discriminate when choosing a partner based on sex,” Warbelow said.

Joe Blanton, a senior sociology, gender, sexuality and women’s studies major, said, “I felt the delegate was arguing things that were completely inarguable, like the way he portrayed bisexuals, which was not only completely inaccurate, it was completely uneducated and it was a very dangerous generalization.”

The trial was wrapped up with a question and answer session in which the panelists fielded questions from the audience.




Panelists’ definitions of marriage

“Marriage is between a man and a woman. … The circumstances of defining (marriage) is rather vacuous. I have never seen one definition of what marriage is when we talk about same-sex marriage.”

Delegate Robert G. Marshall
State delegate, sponsor of the Virginia Marriage Amendent

“Marriage is a constantly shifting institution. Over time, it’s never had one meaning in one place.”
Sarah Warbelow
State Legislative Director, Human Rights Campaign

“The apostle Paul addresses those who reject God as he sees it, and included what he described as depraved behavior, and the ‘uncleanliness of our daughters’ and he noted that “women burn for lust for other women and men for men.’ Now, it’s clear that the apostles had a problem with what he was seeing as an unnatural act.”
Eric Huszar
VCU and University School of Law Alumnus, former opinion editor of the Commonwealth Times

“We don’t say ‘you’re too greedy to get married, I’m sorry,’ although we should, and that’s probably why we have prenups. God’s love is most important, and that gay marriage is just as accepted by God than a heterosexual marriage.”
Cameron Hunt
VCU Queer Action, VCU enrolled in Episcopal Discernment Process for ordination as a priest.

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