TD’s Public Square on Same-sex Marriage Yields Interesting Comments from Richmonders
The Richmond Times-Dispatch hosted it’s 50th Public Square forum on Wednesday, and for the first time ever they opened the floor to debate whether Virginia should reconsider same-sex marriage.
“This is the first time (we’ve held a forum for same-sex marriage). When we have a topic like this, we don’t know who’s gonna show up. This one had more people on one side. We only found that out by doing the pro-and-con back and forth, which was almost a scientific way of doing it,” said Tom Silvestri, Publisher of the Times-Dispatch.
As Silvestri alluded to, the forum had a majority of people speaking for one side of the issue – to allow same-sex marriage in Virginia. Virginians, new and native, spoke about why they believe it’s time for Virginia have marriage equality.
Marie Stella, who’s lived in Virginia for nearly 30 years, believes legalizing gay marriage is just smart business.
“You look at places that are jumping at the opportunity to allowed gay marriage because people want to get married, they want to have ceremonies, they want to have events. (Gay couples) are more willing to do it. There are so many heterosexual people who don’t even want to get married any more,” Stella said.
“So I think gay marriage will be a huge boom to the economic community through engagements, weddings, everything. Gays may even be economically better off than a lot of people.”
Gary Williams considers himself a “new Virginian,” having lived in Ashland for only four years. He grew up in Maine, which has marriage equality, and was weary about coming to a state which has intolerance in it’s constitution, but he said Virginians themselves are more accepting than it’s legislation.
“When I met my present wife, she lived in Richmond. I was a little suspect about coming to Virginia – worried about how I’d fit in…I haven’t run across anyone outside of the religious community, who have a vested interest, who’s advocating for a ban on gay marriage,” Williams said.
The forum wasn’t without dissenters however. Don Blake cited the Christian Bible as a reason to uphold the ban on same-sex marriage.
“It’s a moral issue. All laws come from a moral basis, and if we go back in history, all laws come from the basis of the Bible,” Blake said.
“God said in two separate instances that homosexuality and bestiality are an abomination. Now an abomination is the worst thing that you can have. I think a lot of Christians believe that the word of God is how we should set our lifestyle standards.”
But there was a response from James, who’s spent his entire life in Virginia and he said he “hates to be the bearer of good news” to those who oppose marriage equality.
“Everyone’s kind of divided on particularities and they’re forgetting about honoring everyone’s opinions and choices in life, and to respect and love them for who they are,” James said.
“We need to dig down deep as human beings and love unconditionally. If marrying another woman brings (a woman) happiness and peace, let her exercise her right to choose (to do that)…Take away the hate and supersede the love.”
Marie Stella shared James’ sentiment about spreading love in Virginia. She said she’ll be 71 next month and can’t quite remember how people got this way.
“What is wrong with us? When did we come to hate gays? (Growing up) we had people in our family, people who were in our community, best friends, people who came to our house, slept in our house that were gay. I don’t remember my parents or anyone, ever, ever saying one thing about their sexual orientation,” Stella said.
In just the hour the Public Square ran, Silvestri said his arms are quite tired from handing the mic to all the different voices that wanted to be heard.
I’m a spring intern at RVA Mag and GayRVA. I recently got my degree in journalism from Virginia Tech, where I also wrote for the Collegiate Times newspaper. I spent the first half of my life as an impatient New Yorker, but I grew up here in Richmond, buying skateboards from Dominion, seeing shows at Alley Katz, and watching VCU Rams basketball games. I like everything bagels, wasting my money on clothes I don’t need, moombahton music, and cycling. I probably fell down putting on my pants this morning.
Being born gay, trans, poor or not-white is not up to the individual and those qualities can greatly impact the rest of your life.September 5, 2016
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