Marriage amendment issue up for campus debate Oct. 1

Erik Ebsen

Erik Ebsen

Two political campaigners are coming to SDSU Oct. 1 to explain to students the different sides of the Amendment C “gay marriage” debate.

The advocates will speak in Rotunda G at 7:30 p.m. The forum is designed “to educate and inform, not to persuade [students] to vote one way or another,” said Bob Chell, pastor at the University Lutheran Center.

Chell is also a member of the Campus Interfaith Council, the group that is hosting the event. Other religious groups, as well as the SDSU College Democrats and SDSU College Republicans, are co-sponsoring it. Chell said inviting sponsors from these

alternative backgrounds, along with presenting advocates from both sides of the issue, makes the event itself unbiased.

The two speakers are Jon Hoadley, campaign manager for South Dakotans against Discrimination, and Robert Regier, executive director of the South Dakota Family Policy Council.

Regier said the amendment will legally define marriage in South Dakota as between one man and one woman. Future state judges would not be able to alter this definition. Hoadley said the amendment isn’t about homosexuality.

“It’s being sold as something it’s really not,” said Hoadley. “Gay marriage is already banned in South Dakota.” Amendment C doesn’t change that.

It will change married status into something legally different than other forms of partnership, said both speakers. One such partnership is civil union.

In Vermont, a civil union is legally the same thing as marriage, said Regier. That won’t be the case in South Dakota if the amendment passes. It would prevent the state from granting other forms of partnership the same legal status as marriage, Regier said.

“We’re protecting against counterfeit marriages,” said Regier. “Relationships that pretend to be marriage, whether they’re heterosexual or homosexual,” would not receive the same benefits as marriage.

Hoadley said that while the bill tries to frame the situation in concrete terms, it actually would complicate state law. Rights could be taken from people the law didn’t intend. In Michigan, for example, people were being sued over health care coverage 48 hours after the state passed a similar bill, he said.