Opposing views on display

Ferris hosts same-sex marriage debate

DEBATE: Attorney Dave Kallman (left) and Reasonable Doubts Radio Show & Podcast host Justin Schieber (right) debate same-sex marriage with Ferris State University professor Dan Underwood moderating. (Pioneer photo/Dan Meloy)

DEBATE: Attorney Dave Kallman (left) and Reasonable Doubts Radio Show & Podcast host Justin Schieber (right) debate same-sex marriage with Ferris State University professor Dan Underwood moderating. (Pioneer photo/Dan Meloy)

BIG RAPIDS — Striving for a civil, legal-based debate on same-sex marriage, more than 70 people gathered Wednesday at the University Center at Ferris State University to hear differing views on the issue.

Justin Schieber, co-host of the Reasonable Doubts Radio Show and Podcast, and Dave Kallman, attorney who specializes in family and constitutional law, debated the legal merits for same-sex marriage.

The first hour of the debate consisted of each speaker making opening arguments before the other side had the chance to rebut. During the second hour, audience members wrote down questions for FSU political science professor Dan Underwood to present as moderator.

Schieber opened the debate by defining marriage in two separate functions, religious and civil.

“Tonight’s debate is about a civil institution,” Schieber said. “Marriage is used in two different ways. Sometimes marriage is a religious ceremony, independent from the state. Other times, it is a legal contract recognized by the state.”

Kallman retorted throughout history marriage has been a social institution between one man and one woman, with no significant difference between the legal and religious unions.

“I see no distinctions that make a civil and religious marriage as exclusive,” Kallman said. “Revisionists see marriage as a union of two people sharing the benefits of life together. There is a special link between a man and woman that has held together the family structure throughout history.”

The two panelists shifted the argument to focus of raising children, and whether or not children raised by same-sex couples would benefit from the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“Sociological studies on the whole have shown children raised by same-sex couples are not disadvantaged compared to children raised in traditional couples,” Schieber said. “The point remains, same-sex couples are already raising children, but the current system in place puts them at a disadvantage since their two caretakers can’t be legally united.”

Kallman agreed children benefit from having two parents for support is beneficial, but argued allowing same-sex marriage opens the door to other potential unions.

“There are a lot of people who say you should marry the person you love, but there is no legal right to marry the person you love in the constitution,” Kallman said. “Allowing same-sex marriage would lead to wholesale changes in how our society views marriage.”

Hosted by the FSU Secular Student Alliance, organizers wanted those attending would learn more about the debate and humanize with each side of the issue.

“Last semester, we focused on religious rights and how they relate to LGBT issues,” said Steven Beckon, Secular Student Alliance president. “The benefit of hosting and coming to events like this is people get more information.”

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