The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Students discuss nuances of gay marriage debate

Supreme Court cases carry little weight

Let’s make one thing clear: however the Supreme Court decides on these two gay marriage cases (one dealing with California’s Prop 8, the other with the federal Defense of Marriage Act), there is next to no chance that gay marriage is going to be legalized nationwide as a consequence of either. While some hear echoes of Roe v. Wade in these cases, in all likelihood if the Supreme Court does decide in a manner friendly to gay rights it will be in a much more gradualist fashion, and the fight for marriage rights will continue into the coming decades.

That being said, I also want to emphasize my full and unqualified support for gay marriage. I believe that state and federal laws that bar homosexuals from entering into committed legal relationships with one another are bigoted, senseless and harmful to individual rights.

One of the more common philosophical arguments against gay marriage is that homosexuals already have equal rights: they can choose to marry someone of the opposite sex, just as I as a heterosexual can marry someone of the opposite sex. Gay marriage then is not about demanding equal rights but “special rights.”

Technically speaking, this position is not incorrect. However, I believe such an argument conflates notions of “equality” and “fairness.” “Equality” means that everyone gets the same thing; “fairness,” on the other hand, means everyone gets what he or she needs. The battle for “equal rights” is geared much more toward a struggle for fairness. In fact, we might do better to replace the term “equal rights” with “equal citizenship,” as the latter term recognizes that difference is an integral part of a civil society and should not bar people from full political participation.

So yes, technically homosexuals are demanding a “special right,” but it’s one to which they are clearly entitled if our political rights are to mean anything. The other common argument against gay marriage is that it redefines the divinely ordained nature of marriage between a man and a woman. We didn’t say that heterosexual marriage is the only true form of marriage; God did.

This argument is also absurd. Marriage in the legal sense is much more a matter of practicality than providence. Humans have been redefining marriage for centuries. In Old Testament times, a “legitimate marriage” would have included dozens of concubines. In many parts of the world, marriages are still arranged. Contemporary western civilization equally rejects both of these types of marriage, but to say that the only “real” form of marriage is one where a man and a woman fall in love with only each other and have children is problematic in multiple ways. Ethnocentrism notwithstanding, what do we say of couples who get married who are impotent? Is a heterosexual marriage that by its nature will be unfruitful equally as invalid as a gay marriage? Few Christians would argue so.

However, I believe that this debate hardly need be categorized as an exclusively religious one. More and more people of all faiths in the U.S. are coming to embrace the inevitability of gay rights. And after all, why shouldn’t they? Gay couples who want to get married want to have their love recognized as fully valid. They want to strengthen the institution of marriage through firm, loving commitments. They want to pledge to love one another for all time, to raise well-adjusted children and to grow old together just like so many of the rest of us. Is there really much argument about whether or not Christ would have had a problem with that?

Bub is a junior majoring in English, political science and history.

Christians disagree on gay marriage

When Brandon Bub and I agreed to write on gay marriage this week, I was a bit apprehensive. While we have staked out both Christian and Secular positions on many topics these past few weeks, this is one to which I have numerous personal connections.

I have several gay friends, some of whom are Christians, some not. I want everyone to find fulfillment and fullness of life regardless of their sexual orientation. I want them treated as equals in the United States, not second-class citizens or pariahs. I will first say that the Church has failed in many regards to meet the needs of the LGBT community and to adequately communicate the love of Christ to them. Likewise, I do not see doing the above as compromising what some, perhaps many, Christians view as a “biblical” view of marriage.

Christians have every right to interpret Scripture in a prayerful and intelligent way, even if that means they believe that marriage is ordained between a man and a woman. While LGBT rights activists might deride such a stance as bigotry, the beauty of a pluralistic society is that individuals can hold such a view and still be a valuable part of the society without going unheard. However, the imposition of this view of marriage upon the rest of society may indeed threaten the plurality of American society.

Opening of this issue in the Church has been essential and indeed, timely, given the recent hearing of LGBT rights cases before the Supreme Court. As a constitutional guarantee, it seems to me that people should be able to marry regardless of their sexual orientation under the 14th Amendment, and we will see if these cases turn out in favor of that position.

As a Christian who adheres to the above-mentioned view of Scripture, I do not feel compromised in endorsing the view that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality. My reading of the Constitution is not contingent upon my reading of Scripture. There are essential and necessary legal guarantees that marriage provides, and these guarantees should be available to all.

While some people may label me a “conservative evangelical” (and that isn’t meant in a nice way) for claiming a certain view of marriage based on my reading of Scripture, I really feel that the view has not been given a fair hearing by many people. I am not asking people to endorse what I believe, but merely spend time understanding the theology behind the position.

Even if we are in disagreement about the purpose, quality, and intentions of marriage, discussion about it is important in order to garner understanding. Likewise, Christians who have no contact or relationships with people in the LGBT community severely hinder themselves when trying to communicate their beliefs or have a discussion about marriage.

This might be a reiteration of a point Bub and I have made numerous times, but I’ll restate it anyway. Discussion and dialogue characterized by respect and the goal of understanding are essential both to strengthening arguments and coming to terms with the differences of others. However, the self-centered and self-assured way in which ideologues, politicians, pundits and pastors come to these issues makes them look like idiots, and disrespectful idiots at that.

If I have to stake out a position on gay marriage, it is this – if a Christian does not endorse gay marriage he or she is not automatically a bigot, just operating on a different and equally respectable view of marriage than those who endorse gay marriage. If a Christian does endorse gay marriage, he or she is not a crazed liberal doing damage to the Christian faith, but merely operating on a different view of Scripture and God’s intentions for marriage. I’m not one for the “kumbaya” mentality, but with such an issue as this, love and grace are the best options we have.

Dearman is a junior majoring in political science and philosophy.  

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