Symposium will cover hot topic

By Julie Reinhardt

January 7, 2014

Same-sex marriage is on the table for discussion Thursday, Nov. 14 at 7:00 p.m. in Popplewell 304. 

Three political science professors, Dr. Jonathan Euchner, Dr. Melinda Kovacs and Dr. Edwin Taylor along with Dr. Steven Greiert, Department of History and Geography Chair, will discuss the current status and future of same-sex marriage in the United States.  Dan Radke, Adjunct Professor of Political Science, will act as mediator.

“I would be surprised if there wasn’t a fairly substantial turn-out because this is a polarizing issue,” Greiert said.  “People have very strong opinions on each side.”

Euchner, Kovacs and Taylor are in favor in legalization of same-sex marriage and will each have 10 minutes to present the background of civil unions and the current Supreme Court decisions affecting same-sex marriage.  After this, Greiert will have 20 minutes to present a counterpoint at the request of students to have a balance in discussion.  Greiert said he will be presenting the topics of federalism, state rights and moralism.  Then, the symposium will be open to the audience for a question and answer session.

“If this is going to become law, the constitutional way is to have votes within each state rather than Supreme Courts,” Greiert said. 

            Greiert said the moral argument against same-sex marriage is based on the history and importance of Biblical law as an influence in making the laws of the U.S.

            “The purpose of the symposium is to present the competing positions and diversity of opinion,” Taylor said.  “We are having this symposium, in light of recent Supreme Court decisions, to get a handle on the future of this institution as public opinion continues to evolve.”

            Both Taylor and Kovacs said the symposium is supposed to be an academic discussion. 

“We hope to engender a discussion on the future of same-sex marriage for the United States and other institutions,” Taylor said.  “We expect that there will be some challenging questions raised by members of the audience.”

“Our hope is that people won’t come to this event spoiling to see a fight,” Taylor said.  “We’re hoping that people come to it with open eyes being willing to listen to and engage with the argument presented by any of the participants.”

“This is an exchange of ideas,” Kovacs said.  “Not an exchange of insults.”

Kovacs said, “I think the room will be full of people who have a very strong opinion on whether or not a couple of the same sex ought to be able to be married.”

Kovacs said she does not think the symposium will change people’s minds on the issue.

“I think that what we can hope for is exposing people to information,” Kovacs said.  “I think the people who have very strong positions and opinions are not the same people who have a lot of information.”

Kovacs is participating for the first time in a Western symposium; however she has previously organized discussion of controversial topics surrounding Women’s History Month.

“I am not afraid of controversy or a stranger to generating it,” Kovacs said.

Kovacs said she hopes people from the community attend and participate.

“As a public university, we have a role to play in our local community,” Kovacs said.   

            Prior to the symposium, audience members may become familiar with the 9th, 10th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution and visit the Supreme Court website to review the recent decisions on Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor.