Fraternity’s gay marriage forum plays host to different views

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When Phi Beta Sigma hosts an event, members of the fraternity say, it’s a memorable one.

The group’s gay marriage discussion forum yesterday, with all its yelling, disagreements, shouts of “amen” and cheering, met the standards of both fraternity and other campus community members.

“I thought the discussion was good,” said Al Bates, an attendee. “I thought the discussion was fair.”

Nearly 60 people, almost all of them students, gathered in the Student Union Green Room to participate in the evening’s conversation, which focused on whether or not gay marriage should be legal.

“A couple of organizations out there didn’t want to touch this issue,” said event chair Reuben D’Silva. “That just shows how [important] it is.”

D’Silva, who moderated the discussion, said his intent was to bring about a thoughtful, relevant topic to a group of students.

“We do a lot of these [forums] with a lot of controversial issues,” he said.

The topic, D’Silva said, was broad enough to attract different types of students.

“There’s so much information out there. No one’s ever going to really be a super expert on this issue.”

The debate, which went on for more than three hours, consisted mostly of calm discussion.

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The event kicked off with two videos, one of an interview in which President Barack Obama describes his views on civil unions, and another from an episode of the Dr. Phil show.

The videos led participants into a discussion, which gained more momentum as students became more comfortable.
“My only question is: ‘Why do you even care?’” an audience member commented after the videos had ended. “It’s not… in your house. It’s not your marriage.”

Comments became acrimonious when religious views on homosexuality and gay marriage entered the debate.

“I’m a Christian. It’s in here that [homosexuality] is wrong,” said one attendee, as he gestured toward his Bible.

The remark was just one of the many comments that sparked fierce debate. At one point, fraternity leaders attempted to give audience members a five-minute break to relax and calm down, but discussion kept on.

“For a fraternity to have this [discussion] topic, I think it is really [positive],” Bates said. “Obviously, it got heated.”

D’Silva said he expected the conversation to intensify as issues like religious and personal morals entered the discussion, which intended to be a debate based mostly on the constitutional and legal issues surrounding the gay marriage topic.

“It gets pretty heated…but that’s okay,” he said. “You want to express your passions. You want to express your opinions.”

Johnathan Rivera, a UNLV student, said he learned about the different aspects to the gay marriage debate and heard for the first time about many of the laws that restrict homosexuals in different states.

“Everything was brought [up],” he said. “[Everything] about gays not being able to adopt — I didn’t know that.”

Many attendees said they enjoyed the forum and Phi Beta Sigma hopes to increase the attendance and attract a variety of participants for the next forum.

“I like[d] the turnout,” Bates said, but added, “I wish it was more diverse.”

D’Silva said he enjoyed the event and the discussion.

“I was really impressed with the turnout,” D’Silva said. “I was really impressed with the questions…[audience members] asked each other.”