Forum protestors strive for dialogue with university

[slidepress gallery=’041910_rallyvideo’]

Activists from the St. Thomas and St. Paul community gathered on the corner of Summit and Cretin avenues Saturday, April 17, to protest the Reclaiming the Culture of Marriage and Life Spring Forum that took place on campus.

St. Thomas students and alumni, community members, and members of OutFront Minnesota–an organization that works toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual equality–attended the demonstration to support equality in marriage rights and a more open discussion with St. Thomas administration about the on-campus speaker policy.

“I think it’s really necessary to have this demonstration to just demonstrate to St. Thomas that there is a significant number of people at this school that are not represented systematically by having the space for their voices to be legitimately expressed and heard,” junior Erik Nielsen said. “This is kind of our way to create that space, and I’m hoping that it really sets a precedent for future situations like these that arise.”

Individuals from the Archdiocese communications office and the office of marriage, family and life were unable to be reached at this time. Only ticketed participants were allowed into the forum. The Catholic Spirit newspaper was the only media organization allowed inside.

Students like sophomore Chad Ellertson voiced their frustrations with St. Thomas’ policy in choosing on-campus speakers.

“I don’t necessarily disagree that a Catholic viewpoint on the sanctity of marriage should be expressed on our campus,” Ellertson said. “What I disagree with is that there’s not an equitable representation of both sides of this really contentious issue. I really feel like the administration has swept this opinion under the rug and has kind of run away from this conversation for a long time.”

The forum, which was held in Brady Educational Center’s auditorium, was put on by the St. Paul Seminary and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, not St. Thomas.

Some students are not only frustrated with the lack of equality in on-campus speaker policy, but also with several organizations’ general concept of the institution of marriage.

“I think the National Organization for Marriage and what they represent is really scary,” said Michelle Fournier, an OutFront student intern.

Students from other nearby campuses also attended the event to speak out against marriage discrimination.

“We believe in marriage equality and that love should be honored in every way,” Augsburg freshman Maren Daniels said.

Rebecca Omastiak can be reached at

28 Replies to “Forum protestors strive for dialogue with university”

  1. I think this protest is symptomatic of a larger problem in modern society, which is that and marriage is no longer seen as sacred. Marriage isn’t just some societal legal construct that any two people can enter into so long as both consent. Marriage is a sacrament, and in this sacrament, a man and woman give themselves completely to each other in sacrificial love for the rest of their lives. The sexual act within the confines of marriage echoes this complete and total gift of self, and is a sign of the marital covenant, which God, if He so chooses, makes fruitful and blesses with the gift of children.
    Men and women physically and emotionally complement each other, and as such are capable of completely giving themselves to each other in a way that two people of the same sex cannot. In the sacrament of marriage the two become one, and this two becoming one is echoed in the sexual act that is the expression of the marital covenant. It is not possible for two people of the same gender to become one because they don’t complement each other physically and emotionally the way two people of the opposite sex do.
    That’s not to say that people can’t have close friendships with people of the same sex. In fact, it’s essential for every man to have brothers and every woman to have…

  2. Michael that’s not an argument on why it shouldn’t be legal. That’s an argument for why the Catholic church doesn’t recognize these marriages as a sacrement. First ammendment.

  3. Michael,

    Yes, the Catholic church does not allow gay marriage.  But let’s just pretend for a second that I am not Catholic, Christian, or anything else.  Why should the law be stopping me from getting married to someone that I am in a loving relationship with?  The issue here is legal.  Homosexuals and heterosexuals in relationships that choose to get married should be afforded the same legal and civil rights.  The church can choose to take whatever stance they wish…it’s the law that needs to change.  It’s only a sacrament in the church.  Furthermore, the sentiment that two people of the same sex cannot have a complete, fulfilling, loving relationship and marriage seems to be quite an outlandish claim.  A man and a man or a woman and a woman can love each other just as completely and fully as a heterosexual couple.  

  4. Coincidently, superficial catchphrases like “love is a feeling, not a choice” and “love knows no bounds” are not arguments for making gay marriage legal.

  5. Stefan and Kathryn, while I respect your viewpoints, I think that you and I have different concepts of what marriage essentially is. Your understanding of marriage is that of a legal union, and my understanding of marriage is a sacramental union. If marriage were merely a legal union of two consenting adults, you would have a pretty strong argument. However, since marriage is not merely a legal union of two consenting adults, but, as I said earlier “Marriage is a sacrament, and in this sacrament, a man and woman give themselves completely to each other in sacrificial love for the rest of their lives. The sexual act within the confines of marriage echoes this complete and total gift of self, and is a sign of the marital covenant, which God, if He so chooses, makes fruitful and blesses with the gift of children.” Marriage isn’t a union ordained by man, but a union ordained by God, and, as such, man has no authority or right to change God’s design in order to conform with societal and/or cultural norms.

  6. “Coincidently, superficial catchphrases like “love is a feeling, not a choice” and “love knows no bounds” are not arguments for making gay marriage legal.”

    Not to mention, those phrases show a misunderstanding of what love is. Love is not merely affection or attraction. At its heart, love is self-sacrifice, it is a complete and total gift of self, and the greatest manifestation of love the world will ever know is the ultimate sacrifice Christ made for our sake by undergoing His Passion and Death.

  7. Michael, you’re right- we have different views of marriage. But my point is that the issue at hand is the legality. Your understanding of marriage is a religious one. You can’t determine the legality of same-sex marriage purely on religious grounds without violating the first ammendment.

  8. Michael, in the United States marriage is, in theory and practice, a legal or civil union between two consenting adults and not, as you keep baldly asserting, a “[Catholic] sacrament.” In this context, marriage equality is a constitutional issue. Given the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, as Kathryn suggests, if you sincerely believe that the law should exclude same-sex relationships from marriage taken as a civil union, then you should be able to justify such a policy on constitutional grounds (as opposed to religious grounds)
    which all citizens (even non-Catholics) could reasonably be expected to endorse.

  9. Kathryn, Steven, et. al., from a legal reality, you make a pretty compelling point, but I think there’s a deeper ontological reality to what a marriage is of which the legal aspect just reflects and grants endorsement to that ontological reality. Christians, Muslims, Jews, virtually every religion that dates back to the dawn of time, and even secular civilizations, have all defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the purpose of which is the begetting and raising of children. Now, society may have a compelling interest in raising and supporting that union, which official societal endorsement in the form of legal recognition, as well as tax benefits, accomplish, since the society has a compelling interest in ensuring the welfare of its youngest members, who are the future of that society.
    However, legal recognition has no bearing on what the ontological nature of marriage is.

  10. Michael, I take it that the ‘secular argument against same-sex marriage’ you cite has three main points: (1) the state’s reason for recognizing marriages in general is to provide benefits to those who take up the social burden of producing/raising children and either (2) same-sex couples cannot or do not take up the social burden of producing/raising children or (3) same-sex couples cannot adequately raise children since they require parents of each sex for healthy development. Even if we assume that (1) is true (which is questionable at best), (2) and (3) are false. In response to (2), according to the 2000 U.S. Census, over 39% of same-sex couples raise children (see As such, it is clearly the case that same-sex couples can and do take up the social burden of raising children and so should be granted the same benefits as heterosexual couples. In response to (3), most reliable psychological/sociological research has shown that there is no significant difference between children raised by same-sex couples and children raised by heterosexual couples (see As such, the claim that same-sex couples cannot adequately raise children is ill-founded and likely false.

  11. Michael, the author of article you reference does not explicitly cite any particular study and seems to be pulling supposed “facts” about children raised by same-sex couples out of thin air. Keep in mind, that the “facts” mentioned in your article are consistently and overwhelmingly contradicted by the majority of the empirical data on the subject. For example:

    “Beliefs that lesbian and gay adults are not fit parents likewise have no empirical foundation (Anderssen, Amlie, & Ytteroy, 2002; Brewaeys & van Hall, 1997; Parks, 1998; Patterson, 2000; Patterson & Chan, 1996; Perrin, 2002; Stacey & Biblarz, 2001; Tasker, 1999; Victor & Fish, 1995). Lesbian and heterosexual women have not been found to differ markedly either in their overall mental health or in their approaches to child rearing (Bos et al., 2004; Kweskin & Cook, 1982; Lyons, 1983; Miller, Jacobsen, & Bigner, 1981; Mucklow & Phelan, 1979; Pagelow, 1980; Parks, 1998; Patterson, 2001; Rand, Graham, & Rawlings, 1982; Siegenthaler & Bigner, 2000; Thompson, McCandless, & Strickland, 1971). Similarly, lesbians’ romantic and sexual relationships with other women have not been found to detract from their ability to care for their children (Bos et al., 2004; Chan et al., 1998b; Pagelow, 1980).”

  12. “The results of some studies suggest that lesbian mothers’ and gay fathers’ parenting skills may be superior to those of matched heterosexual couples. For instance, Flaks, Fischer, Masterpasqua, and Joseph (1995) reported that lesbian couples’ parenting awareness skills were stronger than those of heterosexual couples. […] In one study, Brewaeys and her colleagues (1997) likewise reported more favorable patterns of parent-child interaction among lesbian as compared to heterosexual parents, but in another, they found greater similarities (Vanfraussen, Ponjaert-Kristoffersen, & Brewaeys, 2003). […] Certainly, research has found no reasons to believe lesbian mothers or gay fathers to be unfit parents (Armesto, 2002; Barret & Robinson, 1990; Bigner & Bozett, 1990; Bigner & Jacobsen, 1989a, 1989b; Bos et al., 2003, 2004; Bozett, 1980, 1989; Patterson, 1997; Patterson & Chan, 1996; Sbordone, 1993; Tasker & Golombok, 1997; Victor & Fish, 1995; Weston, 1991). On the contrary, results of research suggest that lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive home environments for children.”

    These passages can be found at the American Psychological Association’s website here:

  13. Michael, since Steve already addressed the other article I’ll leave that aside. With respect to the second, I have a fundamental problem with the idea of relatedness as the foundation of marriage. First, presumably you don’t think married couples who have not yet had children are not married. But if their identity as a family extends from the biological ties to one another, they have none, which I think is an obvious problem. I don’t agree that the law has recognized marriage as morally normative for creating children– unless it is meant in some historical sense, which is distinct from an argument for why we should think it is an ontological fact, or unless we think this is a recognized good of marriage, but that’s distinct from saying that it is the only legitimately recognized good of marriage.
    Second, with respect to this whole idea of “two becoming one,” I’d contend it’s actually two creating a third.
    Third, procreation certainly isn’t a sufficient condition for marriage, and the article didn’t really even make a case for why procreative ability is a necessary condition—unless we want to take this idea of biological identity as the necessary condition, but clearly that would ignore that we legally recognize adoptions. Two of my siblings are legally…

  14. …my siblings, but I’m only biologically related to them through one parent. They are no less my siblings than my other brother who I am related to through both my parents. From personal experience, I can tell you it is not our DNA that makes us family- it’s our personal relationships and shared experiences.

  15. Kathryn,
    Kolasinski’s claim that living wills establish visitation rights was news to me (very welcome news mind you) and I think we should look into this claim and see if its actually true for Minnesota residence. The document you cited was very upsetting, but I don’t think it presents a counter example to his claim. The case demonstrates that either, (1) laws that allow visitation rights to be established through living wills do not exist or (2) that such laws do exist and were not obeyed in this case (likely due to discrimination).

    In your critique of Kolasinski, you forgot to address the producing part of the ‘producing/raising’ claim. As it was a major portion of his argument, you should probably comment on it.

    Steven and Michael,
    Both of you seem to be citing psychological studies with, not surprisingly, contradictory results. I will read these studies, but I severely doubt their legitimacy on the grounds that I do not believe you can create an objective test for determining a successful parent. The creators of such a test inherently interject their own opinion on what it means to be a good parent. Regardless of my general suspicion of psychologists (oh, and statisticians too!), I will try to be open-minded. Don’t expect a response till…

  16. Paul, I think if 1, it’s a problem for his argument (at least that part of it) and if 2, I think it’s good reason to believe that GLBTQ people are in need protection under the law (and I think granting them marriage rights is a step in that direction).

  17. Paul, we can put aside the question of production if we grant that, at least, rearing children is a socially necessary burden and that those who take up such a burden are owed benefits. And if same-sex couples are just as capable of taking up the burden of rearing children as heterosexual couples, then there is no reason to allow benefits in the form of marriages to one and not the other. (Moreover, as Kolasinski himself acknowledges, lesbian couples can and do utilize in vitro fertilization to have children.)

    As far as the question of psychological studies, if you look at both sources (i.e. those offered by Michael and those I offered), you’ll notice that my source (the American Psychological Association) cites studies from peer-reviewed journals, while the other does not: there is not a problem of contradictory results, the current research overwhelmingly shows that same-sex couples are just as capable of rearing children as heterosexual couples. However, if you simply distrust psychological and sociological studies in general, then you’ll likely find these unconvincing.

  18. Steven,
    You are claiming that homosexual and heterosexual deserve equal benifits, but homosexual couples (in most cases, lets not discuss the in vitro for now since people may have moral problems with that for unrelated reasons) are only capable of raising children where as heterosexual couples can produce and raise children. Now, we could argue about which is more important, rearing vs producing, but I don’t think we should… at least not yet. As it stands, heterosexual couples offer more for the state then homosexual couples. So, perhaps homosexual couples deserve some benefits, but the claim that they deserve equal benefits is still unsubstantiated. 

  19. Paul,
    Your argument is dependent on an unsubstantiated relationship between benefits and what one(or a pair in this case) has to offer to the state. To take it apart delicately let us first acknowledge that not all heterosexual couples are capable of producing children. This is a fact. Which means you allow for the portion of heterosexual couples that can produce children to epitomize all heterosexual couples in this evaluation. If this is acceptable I’d like to extend that courtesy to all couples. If not, please detail your system for separating couple A who can’t bear child and are gay from couple B who can’t bear children and are straight. 

    Say you recant, and only heterosexual couples that can both produce and rear children receive maximum benefits. Would it not be prudent to evaluate the quality of the child being produced? If we are to default to the offerings couples can provide to the state, then shouldn’t physically and mentally fit heterosexual couples capable of both rearing and producing children should receive the greatest benefits? Provided their children are physically and mentally fit as well, of course. 

    Your generalizations have no place in a logical argument for marriage. Even less so when they are clearly applied with a bias towards…

  20. …heterosexuality. 

    I am not actually opposed to a more restrictive marriage system. Not all people should be married. For instance those seeking marriage to circumvent the laws, gold diggers, adulterers, etc should all be barred from marriage long before homosexuals especially when evaluating the welfare of children. The only compelling argument I’ve seen made for limiting marriage on sexual orientation has been those from religious point of views. Given their belief systems it would seem wholly appropriate to limit marriage. However, there is not a shred of credible evidence presented thus far that legitimizes a gay marriage ban outside religious authorities. 
    Given the current institution of marriage as a secular entity, the only argument a gay couple should need to prove is that in the eyes of the state they are as qualified as the least qualified couple that can be legally married. Which can and has been proven time and time again. 

  21. Brett,
    You are right on all accounts, except one. Steven criticized Kolasinski’s argument, and I felt that his criticism was incomplete, and then later incorrect. I do not support Kolasinski’s argument. His argument in support of letting infertile elderly people to get married is particularly annoying. He states, ‘such cases are so rare that it is simply not worth the effort to restrict them’. This is not an acceptable response to what I think is a very good counter example to his conclusion.

    Indeed, many married couples today are either infertile or don’t plan on having children. The only way I think the current laws can stay consistent with their justification is to give couples the tradition marriage benefits only after they have (or adopt) their first child. This would apply to either homosexual or heterosexual couples. I doubt that this will ever be a popular solution.

  22. Paul, if a necessary condition for the state’s legitimate interest in relationships in general is the production (and not merely rearing) of children, then, as Brett points out nicely, on that standard the state has no legitimate interest in relationships between heterosexuals who either cannot or choose not to produce children. This would hold *even if* non-child-producing heterosexual couples choose to raise children (e.g., adoptive parents). Clearly the state has an interest in recognizing and promoting these forms of relationships and, in fact, adoptive heterosexual parents are granted the same benefits as biological parents. If heterosexual couples who cannot or choose not to produce children (but can or do choose to raise children) are offered benefits in the form of marriage, then homosexual couples who can or do choose to raise children should likewise be allowed to marry. (Moreover, as has already been mentioned, same-sex couples do have the option of producing children through in vitro fertilization or surrogate mothers.)

  23. Sorry for being late to the parade, but what I find unfortunate about both sides of the argument (albeit those pushing for gay rights are forced into their position) is that everyone is arguing on the merit that the state must derive benefit from marriage. The state should not “incentivize” marriage because it promotes the rearing of children. If marriage is in fact a sacred union, it should be up to the churches who they wish to “marry.” There should not be extra rights that come along with marriage such as lower taxes and visitation rights. If gays want to “get married” the state should have no say in it nor should there be additional benefits given to them. I put “get married” in quotes because those advocating against gay marriage reject gay marriage by definition (which makes it slightly ironic you are arguing against something you don’t think could possibly exist). How about we learn how to worry about ourselves and leave others to live how they see fit?

Comments are closed.