The gay marriage debate

This week is Georgia Tech Coming Out Week. In honor of this event, and in my role as chairman of the College Libertarians at Georgia Tech, I participated in a debate this morning on "The Future of Gay Marriage" and the impact of Lawrence v. Texas. Other groups participating were the College Republicans and the College Democrats.

Each group was represented by two members, and I invited Randall McElroy, the previous libertarian chairman, to join me.

In preparation for the event, I read a number of great articles on privatizing marriage, and based my opening remarks around this piece by Michael Kinsley. I also read this Randy Barnett article on Lawrence v. Texas, although I did not have enough time to cover much of that topic.

This was my first time debating in public and with enforced time limits, but I think I did fairly well.

A few observations:

  • I think I was the only person who bothered to prepare in advance. The other participants seemed to just be winging it.

  • The Democrats did not make their position entirely clear, but surprisingly, they seemed to adopt the same privatization stance argued for by Randall and I.
  • The Democrats were dreadfully unprepared on Lawrence, and claimed that the decision was based on a right to privacy, when it was in fact based on a right to liberty. This distinction is of earth-shattering importance, as Randy Barnett makes clear in the piece I cited above.
  • The Republicans at first tried to fall back on a federalist argument against Lawrence, agreeing with the result of the decision but not the reasoning. I mentioned the 14th Amendment objections to this line of argument, and even went so far as to use up my precious rebuttal time reading out loud Section 1 of the 14th, but I couldn't tell if anyone understood or was persuaded by this response.
  • As I expected, the Republicans (and some conservative audience members) used the classic slippery slope argument of, "If we allow homosexuals to marry, what will stop people from marrying children, animals, and trees?" I don't think this won them any points with the crowd.
  • My many years of Hebrew school knowledge came in handy when I was able to cite Jacob, Rachel, and Leah as an example of biblically sanctioned polygamy and Rebecca's betrothal to Isaac at age three as an example of biblically sanctioned child marriage. I'm not sure if this helped my argument much, but it did earn some supportive cheers from the crowd.
  • The Republicans' closing statements were simply appalling: they argued that since the majority of Americans believe in a certain form of morality - a morality which denies homosexuals equal rights - it is therefore proper to have this form of morality imposed on the unwilling minority. This argument completely ignores the purpose of the Constitution and the rule of law as a restraint on the often unjust desires of a democratic majority. Since this was the closing statement, I did not have a chance to respond, but I would have loved to ask the Republicans if they believe the proletariat would be justified in rising up and slaughtering the bourgeoisie as long as they did so democratically.

    All in all, it was an enjoyable event; I'm looking forward to participating in similar debates in the future. The only thing that really frustrated me was the extremely short rebuttal time (2 minutes) and opening and closing time (3 minutes). I had much more to say, and many arguments that I would have liked to use but would have required too much time to explain fully. It's quite a different experience from online debates.

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    did the issue of state's

    did the issue of state's rights ever come up in the debate? IMHO, the entire issue really boils down to that. If a state wants to allow gay marriage then the federal govt should not say it is allowed or not. Two big issues come up if you allow homosexual marriage:
    - Other states have to quickly decide whether they will recognize the union.
    - Employers in the state will have to determine whether they wish to extend benefits to a same sex spouse.

    Now what happens if two guys who are really just friends are roommates for 7 years? Are they married by common law?

    Heck, if two guys want to pay more in taxes then let them get married!

    Yes, the issue of state's

    Yes, the issue of state's rights did come up, but mostly in regard to the Lawrence decision. As for marriage, my debating partner Randall mentioned the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution (Article IV, Section 1), which can be problematic for the state's rights position.

    However, since the position we were proposing was privatization rather than government-sanctioned gay marriage, this isn't such a problem for us, nor are the employee benefits issues.

    I am originally from Canada,

    I am originally from Canada, where the common law statute is in place. And your question:

    Now what happens if two guys who are really just friends are roommates for 7 years? Are they married by common law?

    resonates with me. What if a male and a female who are really just friends are roommates for 7 years? Are they married by common law.

    From what I remember, the answer is yes. At least it was back then. And, yes, I did take steps (including kicking out really good roommates when the common law period was looming) to make sure I didn't get caught by it...

    hey can u tell me some of

    hey can u tell me some of the points for AGAINST GAY MARRIAGE...?

    Gay People Should die and go

    Gay People Should die and go to hell