Can you marry me?

Kirsten Beverley

Debate about gay marriage heats up in the Kiva

Robert Knight, who helped draft the Defense of Marriage Act, argued against Birch and gay marriage in the Kiva last night.

Credit: Andrew popik

Elizabeth Birch, former director of the Human Rights Campaign, debated in favor of gay rights.

Credit: Andrew popik

Kirsten Beverley

Daily Kent Stater

Who would have thought that two penguins named Roy and Silo would cause such controversy in the debate of gay marriage?

Perhaps it had more to do with Roy and Silo being gay penguins that stirred up all of the controversy.

“In Pursuit of Equal Rights: Past Success and Future Controversy” is the theme for the guest of honor series coordinated by the Honors College. Part three of the series featured gay rights advocate Elizabeth Birch and Robert H. Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute. They debated gay marriage last night in the Kiva.

The debate was intended to shed light to the opposing sides of gay marriage, but the speakers focused on the moral and religious issues of the topic. The topic drew about 200 students and community members.

David Odell-Scott, chairman of the philosophy department, served as moderator and introduced both speakers as well as explained the format of the debate.

Each participant had 15 minutes for introductory remarks and five minutes for a rebuttal to the opposing participant.

Experiencing the crowd’s disapproval, Knight began with a bit of frustration. He said the media coverage of the issue is very one-sided toward gay supporters, and that there are very few negative arguments about homosexuality.

Knight quickly focused on his greatest concern — the welfare of the children who are raised in a same-sex marriage.

“I worry about my own kids,” he said. “What kind of world will they live in?”

Knight said that he is yet to see scientific proof that homosexuality is genetic.

“Nobody is born gay,” Knight said.

Knight contended that marriage is a “universal good,” but continued “if a man wants to find marriage, he’ll have to find the right woman to do it.”

Birch was next to speak in the debate.

“Robert certainly has laid a banquet of arguments for me, and I really never know where to begin. But I will pray for him,” she said.

Birch asked the audience to indulge her as she told a story that she felt encompassed everything she knows about being gay. It was a story of two penguins, Roy and Silo, who live in the Brooklyn Zoo.

It seems that as these two penguins grew closer together during the year. It was when the zookeeper came across an abandoned egg, that Birch notes must have been left by heterosexual penguins, that the she decided to give the egg to Roy. What was the result? A healthy baby penguin named Tango.

“Do you know what they found out? Tango was heterosexual,” Birch continued in response to Knights argument that same-sex couples couldn’t raise a heterosexual child.

Birch’s argument had more depth to it than two penguins at the zoo.

“Being gay is not a lifestyle. It’s a life!” she said.

Birch argued that it is dangerous to look at the Bible for guidance of laws and said that this is a major civil rights issue of our time.

“There are 1,242 benefits in this country that do not flow to gay couples,” she said, “and it’s not right.”

The debate made a quick turn in favor of Birch when Odell-Scott opened the floor for questions.

One man in the crowd said, “My mother made this (rainbow-colored) scarf when I came out and when she came (out) too, but really my question is how does who I marry affect you?”

Knight responded, “It doesn’t if you keep it to yourself, but when people transfer the natural law to meet a gay agenda, then it does.”

Birch told Knight that if he is sincere about his fight for the sanctity of marriage, then fight against divorce and adultery.

It still isn’t clear whether there will ever be closure in the debate on gay marriage, but for Susan Baker, junior earth science major, it’s clear: “I should be able to marry whoever I want, whenever I want.”

Contact Honors College and Graduate Studies reporter Kirsten Beverley at [email protected].