The governor of Washington signed legislation Feb. 13 that will allow gay marriage in the state, making it the seventh state to do so. Gov. Gregoire and gay rights activists have since seen opposition, particularly from religious conservatives, according to an article by Reuters.
This controversy is not entirely foreign to Indiana Wesleyan University’s campus, either.
When it comes to discussing gay marriage at IWU, student Ryan Abraham (sr) said, “There are people [on campus] who are Christians and who are gay and have come to terms with their sexuality and their faith. There are people who are gay and are not Christians. … And then there are people who would say that they struggle with same-sex attraction. So that is why I’d say it is very difficult to come to a mutual agreement on what [we students believe] on this topic.”
On Friday, Feb. 10, Abraham wore a “Legalize Gay” shirt on campus, causing a stir among some students. Abraham said he didn’t wear the shirt to shock people but to support an issue he stands behind.
“Yes, it’s a political statement, but to me I feel as if it’s nothing more than just wearing a pro-choice or pro-life shirt,” he said. “It’s just that my stance isn’t as accepted maybe within the culture of IWU than maybe those other shirts.”
Abraham’s shirt was by American Apparel. He said two of his friends have shirts as well, though they did not wear them that day.
That afternoon at 12:03 p.m., a student posted a Facebook status update that said, “Why would you wear a ‘Legalize Gay’ shirt to a Christian college??? Silly silly little homosexual boy…. Lol” [sic].
Abraham said later that he didn’t mind that the status questioned why he wore a shirt like it at a Christian campus. He said his shirt “is making people think a little bit more – and that’s what I wanted.”
Abraham did say, however, that the “derogatory nature” of the end of the post “pushed over the edge.”
The Facebook status currently has 46 comments below it. The student who wrote the status declined to respond.
Abraham said it’s difficult to determine what the “Christian view” is versus the “secular view.”
Abraham said: “There are many people who claim to be gay and also claim to be Christians. And there are many people who say you can’t be gay and be Christian.”
In fact, some Christian denominations, including the United Church of Christ and the Evangelical Lutherans of America, support same-sex unions. Others, like The Wesleyan Church, strongly oppose it.
In a letter titled, “Pastoral Letter on Homosexuality,” Wesleyan church leader Dr. Jerry Pence said, “[The] ‘gay agenda’ is very real and has made undeniable headway.
Prime tactics include making sexual orientation a ‘civil rights’ issue, legalizing same-sex marriage, changing military policy, and denying employers (including religious institutions and faith-based entities) the right to discriminate in hiring persons who reflect their moral values.”
The letter goes on to state that gay activists have been “extraordinarily persistent and adept in their efforts to legitimize and then normalize homosexual orientation, behavior, and relationships among youth.”
Political science major Blake Hoffpauir (so) said he can see both sides of the argument.
“I’m not pro-gay marriage,” he said, “but at the same time, our nation was established on freedom of choice, that sort of deal. It’s a hard subject to try to wrap around. As far as freedom goes people probably should have that right if they want to join a civil union.”
Hoffpauir, a member of the National Guard, likened the same-sex marriage laws to the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which was reversed in September 2011. Those in the military who are in same-sex marriages don’t receive the same spousal benefits as those who are in heterosexual marriages, he said.
According to Indiana Code 31-11-1-1, Indiana does not support same-sex marriage in the state and considers same-sex marriage “void in Indiana even if the marriage is lawful in the place where it is solemnized.”
Last Friday, Feb. 17, the Maryland House approved a bill, which could allow same-sex marriage in the state if the Senate approves, while the New Jersey governor rejected a similar bill.
Abraham said, “I think that one of the main reasons why people on this campus need to learn more about [gay marriage] is because my guess is a lot of them haven’t spent time truly chewing over the topic, really looking into the scriptures and finding out for themselves.”