Visiting attorneys debate gay marriage at School of Law event

By Kayla Overbey

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Panelists debated the legalization of same-sex marriage at the Kansas School of Law yesterday, but they did agree on one thing: the controversy may soon fade as public support grows.

Dale Carpenter, professor of civil liberties law at the University of Minnesota, spoke in support of same-sex marriage and said that legalization would bring a tangible benefit to millions of citizens without harming traditional marriages.

“I see every reason to believe same-sex marriage will benefit everyone in this country,” Carpenter said at the panel discussion presented by the University’s Federalist Society.

He contested the idea that same-sex marriage would harm heterosexual couples and the ideals of marriage. “I don’t see how my relationship is made stronger because someone else’s relationship is undermined,” Carpenter said.

Dale Schowengerdt, an experienced litigator, argued against legalization of gay marriage during the discussion panel.

“This rush to same-sex marriage is a passion of the hour,” Schowengerdt said. “This is such a radical change that it will produce a harmful effect on society.”

According to a May 2011 Gallup poll, a majority of Americans now support recognition of gay marriage as the issue becomes less controversial and more mainstream.

Joshua Williams, vice president of Queers & Allies at the University, said the debate is losing impact.

“I feel people are for same-sex marriage. Most of America does not mind it,” Williams said. “They’re like, ‘Let people get married, we don’t care.’”

Some event participants said the case for same-sex marriage would soon be a problem of the past.

During the debate, Carpenter said taboo issues of the past are nationally accepted without question today. He compared same-sex marriage to the women’s movement of equal rights in the 1960s and 1970s.

Samantha Horner, president of Kansas’ Federalist Society, an event sponsor, agreed with Carpenter’s analysis.

“I think by the next generation it’s probably going to be a moot point,” she said.

Horner said the case would make its way to the Supreme Court within 10 years. “It will come down to a ‘yes, we’re going to recognize same-sex marriage’ or ‘no, we won’t’ throughout all of the states,” Horner said.

Stephen McAllister, professor of law at the University, moderated for the panel.

The debate has moved toward “the decency of recognizing human dignity,” McAllister said. “For my kids’ generations, they’ll look back and wonder what the big deal was.”

The event was also sponsored by OUTlaws and Allies and KC Legal.

— Edited by Jason Bennett


Notes: This article was a project for one of my journalism classes last semester. I was one of many students who decided to cover the same event. It was interesting, but ultimately I was proud of this article. 


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