Mar 22, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterA discussion on marriage equality at Central Wyoming College yielded many opinions but little resolution. More than 100 people in the Little Theater heard the Rev. Ken Asel and the Rev. John Rankin offer differing perspectives on issues surrounding same-sex marriage.
The college's Diversity Committee sponsored the event as part of its new discussion series called "Hot Topics."
CWC theater director and Diversity Committee member Mike Myers said his group chose the topic of same-sex marriage to coincide with the college's staged reading of the play "8" on March 3. The play tells the story of a legal case against California's Proposition 8, a same-sex marriage ban.
Asel is the rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Jackson, and Rankin is an ordained minister of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship and leads the Theological Education Institute in Hartford, Conn.
The speakers responded to seven questions from a moderator, and then took several more from audience members. The panelists had different conclusions though both had religious points of view.
Rankin generally espoused a view that the U.S. Constitution does not protect same-sex marriage as a right but would allow it as a liberty if a state permitted such matrimonies. He also said same-sex marriages damage society.
Asel spoke of personal experience and relationships with gay and
lesbian couples and likened the right for those people to marry to civil rights previously denied women and African Americans.
The moderator asked how society benefited from marriage.
Rankin said marriages teach trust, which is vital to society.
"Where do we learn trust?" he asked, "With family, mother and father complementing each other."
Asel said married people have more of a stake in the system and have support from their partners. Both effects lend stability to society, he said, and same-sex marriages create this benefit just as heterosexual ones do.
"Revolutions occur if people feel they no longer have a stake in the system," Asel said.
The moderator asked the speakers what questions they would pose to people on the other side of the issue.
Asel said one would be, "If same gender sexuality is so abhorrent to Jesus ... why didn't he say something about it?"
Rankin responded to Asel's questions and said Jesus did not discuss homosexuality directly because the people he addressed were concerned with other issues.
Rankin added that Jesus did say marriages should be between one man and one woman.
"The only question is, can you find homosexuality in the biblical order of creation?" Rankin asked.
Asel replied, "Again, we seem to move in and out of the biblical and secular realm. ... Scripture had no understanding of what we understand to be homosexual relationships."
Rankin later touched on how he connected biblical strictures with modern politics.
"We are a nation of biblical ethics," he said.
Myers said the number of people who attended surprised him, and he was happy the forum produced a civil discussion.
"This is a very proud day for CWC, to be able to discuss a topic that arouses strong feeling on both sides in a civil way is something to be proud of," Myers said.
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