A few hundred debate marriage for homosexual partners at UMD

On Feb. 6, at UMD, the Center for Ethics and Public Policy, directed by Shane Courtland, sponsored another in its series of events that bring the university and the community into dialogue about key issues of the day.

The panel was composed of four experts — one from the university (a teacher of Philosophy of Law at UMD), three from the community. More information about them can be found at the bottom of this post. But the real action, in many ways, had less to do with the panelists (the bulk of whom were civil or at least coldly polite to each other) than with the heat generated by the questions.

So, for example, as a student asked a panelist a question, the panelist interrupted the student, allegedly to correct her facts in the question. The student asked whether she could finish the question, and the panelist said “no.” There was a lot of short-circuiting in this debate — moments when a panelist might be asked a doozy of a question, one that I found provocative or interesting, at least, and the panelist would reply with “I don’t understand the question” or “I reject the premise of the question.” It’s hard to move forward from there.

I’m grateful, then, to be part of a university that sponsors these debates. Maybe more importantly, I’m grateful to be part of a university that typically models what these debates can look like when the struggle to understand each other is paramount. I don’t know that both sides will ever really understand each other in an issue like this, but I feel certain that we won’t if we stop trying. We need to model debate not as a struggle to win, but as a struggle to understand, first.

Our panelists:

1. Senator D. Scott Dibble — MN DFL Senator from District 60. Dibble became involved in politics in the mid-1980’s working on issues concerning the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) communities. In 2000, Dibble ran for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives, becoming the third openly gay legislator to serve in the Minnesota Legislature. After serving one term in the House, Dibble ran for State Senate in 2002 where he is now serving in his third term.

2. Jason Adkins — Vice Chairman of the Minnesota for Marriage campaign, the coalition of religious and secular organizations created to pass the marriage protection amendment. He is also executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota. Prior to his advocacy work for the Church, Adkins was an attorney at the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm. He has clerked for both state and federal appellate judges, and received his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School, where he continues to serve as an adjunct professor.

3. Teresa Collett — Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas. Professor Collett is a nationally sought-after scholar and speaker on the topics of marriage, religion and bioethics. She has published numerous legal articles and is the co-author of a law casebook on professional responsibility and co-editor of a collection of essays exploring “Catholic” perspectives on American law. Professor Collett is an elected member of the American Law Institute, and has testified before committees of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, as well as before legislative committees in several states. She has served as special Attorney General for the States of Oklahoma and Kansas , as well as assisting other state Attorneys General in defending laws protecting human life and marriage. Prior to joining St. Thomas in 2003, Professor Collett taught at the South Texas College of Law where she established the nation’s first annual symposium on legal ethics.

4. Jason Ford — Associate Professor in the Philosophy department at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. He received his Bachelors degree in Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Doctorate from the University of California, Irvine. He has an abiding interest in Constitutional law, and has taught Philosophy of Law at UMD for six years.



about 12 years ago

What was the actual title of this "debate?" Was it called Marriage for Homosexual Partners or what? The name of the event sets the premise, and I'm not seeing through the muck here. "When did you stop beating your wife?"


about 12 years ago

Any chance of a video of the debate being posted?


about 12 years ago

It might work better if the amendment advocates didn't have such a strong tie to their means of financial support, ie the Catholic Church. Might be better to have unaffiliated folks make the case. Then again, are they out there?


about 12 years ago

We've been through this a million times but I still don't get it. 
1. How does gay marriage "threaten" straight marriage ?
2. Are bigotry and prejudice OK when they're wrapped in the mythologies of ancient desert tribes?
3. Don't these bigots have anything better to do?
4. Shouldn't the Catholic clergy be more concerned about the epidemic of priestly pedophilia in their own midst? 

Oh, now I remember: the whole "values voter" thing is about manipulating the emotions of ignorant people so they'll vote against their own economic self-interest. And it's another way to divide people. Same old shit.


about 12 years ago

Good news! The 9th circuit court in California has struck down proposition 8.

"Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples," Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in the decision. The court concludes that the law violates the 14th Amendment rights of gay couples to equal protection under the law."


about 12 years ago

I am still baffled as to why the Government has anything to do with something that is religious in nature.

I mean, they don't legislate who can or cannot get baptized. They don't legislate who can make the trip to Mecca. 

The only consideration government should be making is whether or not a particular business or insurance company has to honor those benefits given to members of gay marriage. Even that is silly because that will eventually even itself out.

Some people will stand on the premise that gay marriage is wrong, and will not honor those benefits. Subsequently, they will pay the price as more and more supporters of gay marriage boycott the services of this business. To the point where they will decide that their stance is hurting them financially and will eventually give in.

So even that argument holds no real merit.


about 12 years ago

To add to what DaVe said: How can you claim to advocate for "less government interference" in people's lives and in practically the same breath advocate for an amendment that would increase government interference in people's lives?

How is that liberty? How is that freedom?

The upholding of the previously overturned Prop 8 on constitutional grounds was really engineered for California's specific case. Marriage rights were extended to all California couples, but that was eliminated with Prop 8. This basically invalidated about 18,000 marriages.

The 9th circuit decision basically stated that the invalidation was a violation of those individual's 14th Amendment rights under the Equal Treatment clause.

It's a victory, albeit a short lived one it seems now, as the proponents of Prop 8 are threatening to take this States Rights issue to the Supreme Court. States Rights is a good platform, IMO ... however, this is a clear case of asking mom for cake when dad already said no. (Again, another case of that pesky government interference in our lives.)


about 12 years ago

Someone is going to have to explain this to me.

I thought churches enjoyed tax-free status on the proviso that they stay out of politics.

They should either pay up or keep their opinions to themselves.


about 12 years ago

The Utah was the 2nd largest contributor to the campaign that passed Prop 8.



about 12 years ago

Yeah, what dbb said: is there any video out there?


about 12 years ago

Channel 10 has a snippet or two on its website.


about 12 years ago

That's the problem Rouge, where does religious belief end and politics begin?

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