Community Shocked During Gay Rights Debate

Tonight, Equality Utah had a full debate with the Sutherland Institute on the validity and correctness of the Common Ground Initiative bills.

For Equality Utah, the panelists were Cliff Rosky, Lee Beckstead, Senator Scott McCoy and Will Carlson. For Sutherland, Paul Mero, LeVar Christensen, Shirley Cox and Bill Duncan.

There isn’t much to say here, it happened almost exactly as so many predicted. Sutherland voiced a call for the importance of civility multiple times during the night, and yet it was their President who made some of the most hateful comments of the night.

“We disagree not only with your views, but with every motivation that goes into those bills” Paul started off with ,talking about the C.G.I. bills and their creators. He went on to state that finding any common ground “is impossible.” The LGBTQ community is apparently living in Neverland, as “Sexual orientation is an illusion…your [the LGBTQ community] idea of rights is an illusion,” Paul said to gasps of shock from the crowd. “You think a piece of paper, will make you a family.. You think that love makes you a family.” According to Mr. Mero, only having generations makes a true family. Anyone else, just doesn’t count.

Equality Utah posed the question, “Why discriminate against jobs and housing?” Ex-Rep LaVar Christensen thought he had the answer. “No one is trying to discriminate. As a society, we license what we approve, because we come from a set of beliefs,” he tried to explain. “Employers don’t ask about marriage during an interview, they don’t ask personal details.” Many people muttered to this, including myself. I can recall several job interviews where I was asked personal questions, or the employer looked up my personal information on places like Myspace or Facebook pre-job offer. Moving into adoption and Gay/Transgender families, he says, “The natural birthright of kids, is to be raised by a mother and father, that is their right.”

Sutherland posed the question as to what scientific evidence supported the claim that homosexuality and/or children of same-sex parents is healthy. Lee Beckstead quoted several specific accredited studies, including by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  These studies, which started with no agenda either way, showed that the results “demonstrate that there is no difference between having gay or non-gay parents to children…in both physical health, and mental health.” According to these respected studies, children who grow up with same-sex parents are the same when it comes to “likelihoods.” Meaning they are just as likely to be physically healthy, mentally healthy, college graduates etc.. as children who grow up with heterosexual parents.

To compare Mr. Beckstead’s answer, Shirley Cox made some pretty wild claims but was unable to quote a single specific study. “Studies show that kids in homes with homosexual parents are more likely to have poor mental health, abuse drugs and have poor school performance” she claimed (without mentioning where these supposed studies came from). She also mentioned that “these types of homosexual relationships should not be permitted due [in part] to the fact that on average homosexual relationships do not last as long as heterosexual ones, there’s no longevity.” However, she apparently failed to recognize the obvious contradiction in her argument. How can you fault homosexual relationships for not having the longevity of heterosexual relationships when you fight against their existence at every turn?

Overall, Team Equality Utah had amazing points. From Senator McCoy showing that creating stable families through these rights is incredibly beneficial to society as a whole, to Cliff Rosky responding to an audience question showing that it is the governments responsibility to protect it’s people.

The most shocking moments of the night? The audience member who shouted out that “gays” should want to go to prison because they would get more action, or the other audience member who compared same-sex marriage to a man having sex with his horse.

My favorite quote overall? Will Carlson [in reponse to Mr. Mero who said that same-sex relations are wrong because they have the highest risk of disease} said to Mr. Mero, “You know, lesbians have the lowest disease rate of any relationship. So if that [having the lowest disease rate] is the goal, only lesbians should be allowed to be intimate!”


14 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by keri on February 19, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Thanks for being there tonight. Maybe next time we should just have two hours for questions back and forth. I wish we could’ve made it through more audience participation.


    • Posted by ethingtoneric on February 19, 2009 at 10:59 pm

      That would be great! I wish we could have gotten to more (from both sides). Team Equality did an AMAZING job though!


  2. Posted by Marie D. on February 19, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    I am so proud of the job Equality Utah did. Team Sutherland was full of anectodal evidence, “very excellent” but unnamed studies, and demeaning and irrelevant conjecture, and Team Equality gave clear, concise, direct answers, citing specific laws and broadly recognized studies. I think my favorite aspect of the evening was that Sutherland set up parameters prior to the debate that discussion of marriage or adoption was strictly off-limits, and then Paul Mero spent most of his closing discussion marriage. Okay, that was one of my favorites. There are so many to choose from! When the type of logic set forth by Sutherland is the opposition I face, then I feel just fine about what the future holds.


  3. Posted by Kate on February 19, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    I would have loved to be there for support. I’m glad it went well. It really says a lot when it gets into name calling and desperate attempts at ‘scientific’ reasoning.


  4. […] Community Shocked During Gay Rights Debate « Eric Ethington’s weblog […]


  5. Posted by Rhonda on February 19, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    I went there hoping to have answers answered. I have always really wanted to know why they felt this way. But to no avail I found NO answer coming from Team Sutherland. I just wanted to know why they would think such things and why so much hate. Other then seeing hate and discrimination, I saw four unhappy people. I certainly heard no answer to any questions and not proof to what they were saying, no evidence.

    Now for Team Equality, they were awesome. Not only did they have the answers. They quoted studies and had proof to what they were saying. Not that I ever questioned. They had so much elegance and class, they even smiled.

    As to the outburst. I didn’t see anyone of us yelling things out. When that guy asked about the uncle and the horse, Team Equality didn’t even lower themselves to comment on that. Or when the guy yelled about jail “you will get more action” Team Equality just kept there cool. I was very impressed with them. Will and the others did an excellent job tonight.


  6. Great report. I hope there’s video!


  7. Posted by Thomas R on February 20, 2009 at 5:17 am

    I have to say. I feel better tonight knowing that these people are our biggest foes. These people were, and I hate to be uncivil here but Its time for the “gloves to come off” as Paul Maro said, complete and utter idiots. They contradicted themselves more times than I could count, there reasoning was illogical on every issue and they just recycled decades old arguments and put a fresh coat of paint on it but they still look as bad as they did back then. Oh and I was very happy to hear, as Im sure you were Eric, that our who existence is an illusion. If sexual preference is an illusion like Mr. Maro said, wouldn’t it go to stand that heterosexuality is an illusion to. And if thats the case, aren’t we all then the same?

    Im just glad that this group of people had no intelligence amonst them or that could have been a tricky debate. Our panel was brilliant, well prepared and the obvious winners. After tonight, I feel a new sense of pride knowing that these are our true enemies and the true enemies of equality. Knowing this, I know for sure now that our rights aren’t that far off the horizon because I dont think the public, in general, can agree with these people and their idiotic was for much longer…


  8. Posted by Rhonda on February 20, 2009 at 6:24 am

    You want to know what really got me? Was when they said how depressed kids got and how they do poorly in school. When they have gay parents. Well Team Sutherland you are wrong again. My daughter who will be 28 this year did very well in school. She kept an A average in middle school and a B+ average in high school. Also she has a B.A. in Business Science, A.A. in Business and a minor in something else, she was an air traffic controller in the Air Force for 6yrs and was a Sgt. So that theory is not nesseccarily true. She is a very well rounded person which I am very proud of and to say she is any less, well that is just plain wrong. What word is it they use so much. It is an obamination, lol. they use that for everything.


  9. Posted by Scott Lundberg on February 20, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Great post, Eric! I think this captures the event very well.

    I enjoyed Cliff Rosky’s legal clarifications a great deal and I thought they were some of Team Equality’s strongest arguments. Definite props to him for being a great straight ally!

    Looking toward the future, I would be a big proponent of more time for audience participation. There were large lines of people who did not have a chance to ask questions due to time. I do also think that each person asking a question needs to write it down on a small index card in an effort to help them stay concise.


  10. Posted by DeAnna on February 20, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Eric-Thanks for the writeup! I loved what Will said about Lesbians & diseases! Made me even prouder! 🙂


  11. […] were anti-. And even today, we have people justifying bans on gay marriage (or even the most basic of civil rights [ok, I apologize, that second link is kinda […]


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