Same-sex marriage: Right or wrong? — Perspectives on same-sex marriage within the gay community
Christian perspectives on same-sex marriage part 2

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In March 2004, L.A. Youth held two discussions on same-sex marriage, exploring Christian and gay perspectives on the issue, with the help of guest speakers with an interest in the topic. Here is the full text of the Christian perspectives discussion, which was excerpted in our May-June 2004 issue:

Christian perspectives

James Bean, youth ministries, Eagle Rock Baptist Church: Marriage in our society, it’s kind of on a downward trend, as far as looking at marriage as a whole. You’ve got divorce going up, and even people who are married—it’s not always the greatest thing for them. Marriage between a heterosexual couple is not always the best thing, but my views would best be portrayed by saying we’re against gay marriage. Because, first of all, God created men and women and blessed them to be fruitful and multiply and to have kids, and that’s the system that he set up. So, that’s our opinion.

One of the biggest things about gay marriage—why I would be against it—is because the best situation for a child in a family would be to have a man and a woman present. In our society, there is divorce and there are single parents, and they do the best job they can to raise children. I’m not saying that that’s the only situation that there has to be—a man and a woman. But that’s the ideal situation, and I feel that we need to promote the ideal even if we can’t always attain it—but it should be what we shoot for. And, to support gay marriage—I feel—would be trying to make the situation better by throwing another monkey wrench in a machine that’s not working very well.

Ben Ku, youth pastor, First Evangelical Church of San Gabriel Valley: In terms of the issue of homosexual and gay marriage, it’s a hard topic to deal with. I feel like for Christian students, there’s a huge problem for standing up to that. It’s because public opinion tends to be more prominent in Southern California; it tends to be that if you are against homosexuality, you say that’s not a right, moral lifestyle. People automatically attack you and give you the title that you are intolerant, that you’re biased, you’re prejudiced, a bigot, or a homophobe. It’s really difficult for people to have an opinion and say,”I don’t think that that’s a right lifestyle.” It might be OK for you to not accept homosexuality as your own lifestyle, but it’s not OK for you to tell other people that it is wrong—that that is an immoral lifestyle. I see that tends to be very difficult for people who want to stand up and say, “I don’t think that’s right”—to be able to stand up. Especially in the media, how it portrays homosexuality and even just the way that we think today, we tend to be a very tolerant society. I don’t want to put tolerance on a negative note, but sometimes there are things that are right or wrong, and if it’s wrong it should not be tolerated. I’m not going to right away just blankly say that homosexuality is wrong. I’m just going to say that it’s difficult for students who want to stand up to that opinion—to say that it is wrong. I feel like society is pushing against us; there’s this huge pressure.

In terms of homosexuality, I want to create as a starting point the question of, is this a moral issue? If homosexuality is a moral issue, that there is a right and there is a wrong, then I think we should be able to legislate “this is right” and “this is wrong.” Like for example, I think a majority of people would say that murder and stealing and lying—these are moral issues. Because, say, murder is wrong, there are laws in the land that decree that there are certain consequences if you murder. And so, I think that if homosexuality is a moral issue, then there should be legislation that says how we should deal with this issue. But if it’s not a moral issue, then I think that perhaps we shouldn’t be so strict in saying that there should be legislation, there should be laws against it, that it should be an individual’s choice, and that an individual has a right to make that decision. So I think I want to start off by saying: is homosexuality a moral issue? Because if it is, then we have the obligation. I think as a society, to have an orderly society, we have to dictate different laws and how sexual orientation is to be dealt with. But if it’s not, then there’s a different place for that issue to be dealt with.

I’m kind of excited for this discussion because at our church we take the position that homosexuality is a moral lifestyle—that it’s sin based on what God says in the scriptures. So that’s what I’ve been hearing a lot of times. I’ve read different articles—different ideas—on how the Bible might be interpreted differently and how other people might think that it’s an acceptable lifestyle. I’ve heard the arguments, but I’ve never been engaged in a discussion.

Neil Thomas, senior pastor at Metropolitan Community Church in West Hollywood: Our stand on homosexuality is that the Bible is ambiguous at best; it’s definitely not clear. We totally agree with you, James, that God made Adam and Eve. But God also made Adam and Steve and Eve and Eve, and all are created in God’s image, regardless of our sexual orientation, color, creed or gender. And that the job of the Christian church is to include all peoples so that we may find a way to have a connection with God, a higher power. As far as gay marriage is concerned, Metropolitan Community Churches perform about 6,000 gay marriages every year and we do not need the law to tell us whether we can do gay marriage or not. We already are, and have been doing gay marriage for 35 years. As far as the law in concerned, we have the separation of church and state in this country, and therefore this is a civil issue, not a religious issue. And civil rights is something that Americans have been forerunners in ever since their foundation. To even think about putting discrimination into the Constitution is completely immoral in a society that separates church and state. For us this is a civil issue, just as the civil rights issues for the black community. Now, we’re facing civil rights for the homosexual community. For the government to get its noses into the religious churches, for the church to get its nose into the civil issues in a country where there is separation of church and state, is wrong to begin with.

Cecilia Ybarra of Los Angeles: I’m not representative of a church. I grew up in Southern California; I went to school here. I grew up as a Catholic—a very nominal Catholic—meaning I went to Mass, but wasn’t practicing very strongly. Then when I was high school, I had somewhat of a conversion experience, and I repeated a prayer after someone and I became a Christian. That took several years to figure out what that meant for me—how I practiced that and how it impacted my life. After high school, in college I was involved with Inter-varsity Christian Fellowship, which is an Evangelical group at campuses all over the country. All that time, I was actually dating boys. After college I sort of dealt with an issue that I’d been dealing with since I was about 12, which was the fact that I was more strongly attracted to women. The churches I went to were not “gay friendly,” to use that term. The churches I went to pretty much taught me that Adam and Eve were created for one another, and if I was dealing with that—it was a psychological issue or something to pray through, something to work through. I don’t think I had a day or a big event where I broke with a certain type of church, but I think it’s been an evolution since then of deciding that’s not true for me and I don’t think that’s true for my God. …

I understand what you’re saying about Christians feeling persecuted in this society. Whereas people who aren’t from a Christian faith are like, ‘What are you talking about? That’s the major society in America. George Bush espouses Jesus and suddenly he’s the great philosopher.’ So there’s a really different viewpoint about Christianity in America—some feeling that it’s a really persecuted group of people who are only trying to do good, and others feeling like it’s a group that dominates and crushes a society that’s trying to do good for others. I tend to feel that true Christians who are in touch with Jesus are people who are doing good and are going against the tide…I feel like this particular gay marriage discussion is informed by that point of view.

Julie Li, 16, Mark Keppel HS: I just wanted to say to the speakers that supposedly we’re coming from the background with our belief in God. I want everything to be more scripture based—what God says about this—and not about our own emotions, about your own orientations and stuff like that and our own bias—but what God says in the Bible.

Some homosexuals that are supposedly Christians; they say that God condones their lifestyles. But there’s only one truth. You can’t say that God doesn’t sometimes and God does sometimes. There’s only one truth in the Bible. There’s only one truth that God holds to. If they’re going to use scripture to prove that their lifestyle is OK, then I want them to be using the scriptures from their context, from the way it’s written and not twisting scripture at all, because those are the holy words of God.

Valentina Cardenas, 16, Ramona Convent: I think a big problem in society today and religion is that we forget that the Bible or the Torah or whatever manuscript of God we follow from, they need to keep in mind that this was written years later. It was passed on by word of mouth and then they wrote it down. I think we need to take into consideration what the Bible means, rather than what it says. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth—that’s not how it is now, It’s due process. I believe that the Bible is something to follow by; it’s a lesson of morality and ethics that we need to follow. For people to look at themselves and think, “I’m immoral because I’m attracted to a woman” or “I’m a man and attracted to another man”—I don’t think that’s right. We’re trying to live in a society to be more accepting—to stop the hate crimes and stop the prejudice in our schools. We need to just look at the Bible and just step back from it, and maybe not look at it so literally, because look what it’s causing. I read the Bible, I’m a confirmed Catholic. I’ve been going to Catholic schools my entire life. I’m at a private all-girls school now. I’ve had all views of the Bible. What I’ve learned, in my opinion, is that it’s not all literal. It’s not from God. I mean—it is from God. But when they say the stories, I honestly don’t think some of them are literal. People who wrote it say OK, let’s draw the moral from this story so people can see, so people can learn. And I don’t think that it’s literal. So when they say God created man and woman. Well yes, he did. But God loves all and God is accepting to all. So if we as a society want to stop the hate crimes, we need to reach out to the people and make them not marginalized and bring them all in. Because we’re just marginalizing right now, and we’re making them hide and feel hated and it’s a horrible thing. We need to be more accepting.

Ben Ku, youth pastor, First Evangelical Church of San Gabriel Valley: I’m not sure whether or not this is a literal debate of what scripture says about homosexuality. This issue of … should we take the scripture literally, or should we take it out of its meaning, or just take the moral stories out of it—that can be very interpretive. As a Christian, I think that the Bible is literal and we would be discussing on different levels if we were doing a theological discussion. I don’t know if that’s the context of what we’re doing here.

But I do want to acknowledge that Christians have had a bad rap in terms of dealing with homosexuality. I think a lot of that has to do with fear and we don’t know how to respond. I wholeheartedly agree that the scriptures acknowledge that God has told us that we need to love everyone and love everyone with the kind of unconditional—the kind of selfless love that Jesus demonstrated. Jesus didn’t just love the people that he liked; that’s easy to do. I like my friends, I can love them, I can serve them; I can buy them stuff; I enjoy spending time with them. But Jesus spent time with the marginalized, people who are in sin, the adulterers, the people who you normally wouldn’t want to hang around with. From Christian point of view that we need to embrace that Jesus is calling us to love. At the same time though, I think that Jesus makes a distinction between loving and accepting their lifestyle. When he went to the adulteress, he didn’t accept and say “what you are doing is right.” He didn’t accept the things that the tax collectors did and how they’re cheating. He didn’t say that they’re right. But at the same time, he loved them and embraced them, because they have a spiritual need and they have a need that Jesus can fill.

If this is a moral issue, and I believe that this is, than we need to be able to make a distinction between what it looks like to love a person and what it looks like to accept their lifestyle, because I think they’re different things. I think that it’s necessary that we love people as scripture commands us. At the same time, if homosexuality is sin, we need to be able to call that out and say it’s sin and we should not embrace that, if it is a sin. I think that Christians have had a bad rap because we don’t know what to do with it. On the one hand we don’t want to condemn people, but at the same time sometimes it’s hard to make associations because then they’re like, “you’re loving sin,” and we don’t want to be in that gray area. We’re kind of in a place where we’re learning where that looks like.

Rachel Lizotte, 14, John Burroughs HS: I’m Unitarian and we’re free thinkers. Gay couples come to our church that were Christian or Catholic, and they were basically kicked out of their church for being gay. It’s really horrible because we’re some of the only religious groups that accept them and they come to our church so broken-hearted. It’s just horrible to see because like Tina said, God is accepting. I don’t know anything about the Bible myself. I have not heard the whole story of Jesus, but I’m learning. My minister, my ex-minister, he was gay; he got married in our church.

Libby Hartigan, L.A. Youth managing editor: So what do you think about this gay marriage issue?

Rachel Lizotte, 14, John Burroughs HS: I think it’s OK for gay people to get married. I don’t see anything wrong with it, honestly.

Barbara Lee, 17, Palisades Charter HS: I think that proposing a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman is wrong. The issue is the separation of church and state Bringing religious issues and using it as evidence to support that and to write discrimination into our constitution, that’s not right—that’s not valid. I’m not a Christian, but my grandmother is Christian; people around me are Christian. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. The constitution isn’t just made for Christians or non-Christians. It’s made for everybody, all religious people or all non-religious people. To write that “you can’t do this, you can’t do that” into our Constitution—it’s just wrong. It’s a simple issue and it’s a political issue too. Our Constitution protects basic views and we can’t say basing your thing on American traditions. It’s not right to write that into the Constitution. It’s just not right.

Ray Tenorio, 18: Everyone’s saying they’re from religion. I don’t believe in religion. I believe that there’s a God but I don’t believe in religions, because religions are fallible because man created them—and man can be corrupted, and the scriptures could have been created for their own benefits, of course. That is my view on that. But I mean, I grew up in a gay family. My aunt likes women; she’s a lesbian. My cousin—the dude’s gay. All right, cool. But it doesn’t affect me in any way so why should it bother me that they’re gay or lesbian? Why should it bother anybody? Because it’s not directly affecting you in any way whatsoever. And yeah, sure, like he said, Adam and Eve—we’re made to populate the world. Yeah, all right. But now that the world has been populated, there’s leniency. Now people can be gay and lesbian. The world’s populated; the job’s done.

Andrea Domanick, 16, Harvard-Westlake School: I have a question for the Christians. You guys are saying that Jesus loved the sinners but he didn’t accept them and I understand that, but in modern context how do you love someone without accepting who they are? I just don’t actually understand that. Can you explain that to me?

Neil Thomas, senior pastor at Metropolitan Community Church in West Hollywood: You can’t, that’s a simple fact. You can’t. And that is part of the dichotomy.

Andrea Domanick, 16, Harvard-Westlake School: Isn’t that part of the definition: to love someone is to accept them for who they are?

Neil Thomas, senior pastor at Metropolitan Community Church in West Hollywood: As soon as you say you love the sinner but hate the sin, which is the classic rhetoric that is usually given, you’ve already made a judgment, you’ve already made a bias. Therefore, whenever you try to accept—there’s always a stumbling block because you cannot accept that whole person—because you’re already saying that you can’t accept the sin. And the fact of the matter is that we all sin. And Julie, with all due respect, if you want to take a literal translation of the scriptures I’m going to have to ask you to be quiet, because the scriptures say that women can’t talk. And I don’t want to do that because I have a different interpretation of what scripture is. The literal translation of scripture says that women must not speak when there are men in place or anywhere actually. I don’t accept that about God’s word. I believe that women should speak and I believe that women should have every right to voice their opinion. But you can’t take Paul’s letter as far as one point is concerned and then ignore the other. You either take a literal translation of scripture or you take the interpretive revelation of scripture.

Julie Li, 16, Mark Keppel HS: I’m not saying that everything in the Bible is literal.

Neil Thomas, senior pastor at Metropolitan Community Church in West Hollywood: But the homosexual pieces are?

Julie Li, 16, Mark Keppel HS: Yes.

Neil Thomas, senior pastor at Metropolitan Community Church in West Hollywood: So not everything is, but the homosexual pieces?

Julie Li, 16, Mark Keppel HS: No, wait. Some parts, like how Jesus said that “you have to eat my body and my blood” for the communion. That’s figurative. Do you really eat Jesus? No you don’t. That’s figurative. But the laws, those are literal.

Neil Thomas, senior pastor at Metropolitan Community Church in West Hollywood: I don’t want to get into a debate, but the fact of the matter is Jesus says absolutely nothing about homosexuality.

Julie Li, 16, Mark Keppel HS: That’s true, but does that mean he’s for it? No.

Neil Thomas, senior pastor at Metropolitan Community Church in West Hollywood: Doesn’t mean he’s against it.

Julie Li, 16, Mark Keppel HS: He didn’t say a lot of stuff; he didn’t talk about a lot of sins also. Does that mean that he’s accepting that sinful stuff … no.

James Bean, youth ministries, Eagle Rock Baptist Church: I think the hard part about the Christian church talking about homosexuality is when they say that someone is a homosexual, we equate it with someone being a sinner. Now, if we would take a sin that I have in my life. Let’s say I lie; let’s say I’m a liar. If you would just look at me and say I’m a liar, then that’s a sin in my life that has to be dealt with. But you can accept me as James, but not accept my sin, which is lying. Now to look at a homosexual, you can accept them for the person that they are or the person that God created them as, because he loves each and every one of us. But the hard thing is that by them saying that they are homosexual, the sin is automatically equated with … I believe that you can say that you are homosexual but not be in sin by not practicing. If I were to commit adultery, it’s as much of a sin for a man to have sex with another man. But my view would be that I would accept a homosexual for the person that they are and love them as a person, with the understanding that hopefully they would be able to turn from any sinful ways just as much I would need to turn from my sinful ways.

Ben Ku, youth pastor, First Evangelical Church of San Gabriel Valley: You cannot love someone and not accept who they are. But I think there’s an assumption that you’re making that homosexuality is part of the person—that it’s not a choice or behavior.

Rachel Lizotte, 14, John Burroughs HS: But it’s not a choice.

Ben Ku, youth pastor, First Evangelical Church of San Gabriel Valley: That’s an assumption. If it’s a behavior, then it’s a choice. If it’s something that you’re born with, then it’s not a choice. If you’re able to show that you are born with your sexual orientation, then I would say that maybe that’s the way that you were made as a person, and then you need to love them. I believe that homosexuality is more than just a tendency that you have, but it’s a behavior. And if it is a behavior, then I think it’s necessary for us to distinguish the behavior from the person. Does that make sense? Like for example, I could be a murderer, a mass murderer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t love me as a person, the way that God made me and still say that my murdering is wrong. There’s a difference between my behavior and who I am. I don’t know if we’re going to deal with—is homosexuality a choice or something you’re born with?

Libby Hartigan, L.A. Youth Managing Editor: I think that there are a lot of people in our society who are thinking about gay marriage from different points of view. The thing that arose at our staff meeting two weeks ago was that some of the Christians who were here felt that their point of view wasn’t being heard. And that’s really the point of our discussion today. I know that for some of you it might not resonate that much; you might not be concerned with what scripture says. But I do think that there is something about scripture that is at the root of some of the feelings that some people have about gay marriage, and we can’t just ignore that issue in this particular aspect of this discussion. It may not seem that relevant to you and it may not be relevant to what the Supreme Court is saying, but I think when you look at what the controversy is about … What we’re trying to understand here is why are some people so strongly against gay marriage. What’s driving that? What are some of the motivations there? How can we look into that more? I think that’s why we’ve been talking about scripture, about interpretations. We’ve been trying to really delve. When you talk about interpretations not everyone makes the same interpretation, as you’ve heard here today.

George Zuo, 15, Sierra Vista HS: If God didn’t support homosexuality, then why did he allow it? If he created Adam and Eve, then why did he allow people to be homosexual?

Julie Li, 16, Mark Keppel HS: Then why does he ever allow us to sin, to lie, to murder, to hate? That’s the same question. God allowed us to have a choice between what is right and what is wrong. Adam and Eve, the choice of whether to choose from the tree or not.

George Zuo, 15, Sierra Vista HS: So he’s giving us a choice. So we can choose whether to be gay or not, right?

Julie Li, 16, Mark Keppel HS: Yeah, but is it right or is it wrong? Choosing the tree was wrong. He let Adam and Eve choose to eat from the tree, but then it’s still labeled wrong. Therefore, homosexuality is still wrong because it’s still labeled that way.

Nadine Levyfield, 13, Eagle Rock HS: I’m Jewish and all my views about people who are gay or lesbian and gay marriage don’t stem from my religion at all, just from my upbringing, from my parents, from my family. And to me, it is really offensive when people say that Christianity is the main religion in the United States, and you know Bush’s opinions should relate to Christianity. That really bothers me because I’m Jewish and my family is Jewish and I have some friends who are Jewish. Me believing in gay marriage—because I do believe in it—that stems from what I was brought up in, my family values. For people to say that it’s wrong because of religion and a constitutional ban due to the religious aspect, that just confuses me, because there is separation of church and state. To me that’s like saying to a black person and a white person, “you can’t get married.” I’m religious in a Jewish way and I don’t really know that much about people’s views from Christianity, but I think that all people’s religions—if they’re happy with it and if it’s fulfilling their spirituality—then that’s fine. But I’m strongly against people who preach to others—preach their religion, try to spread it to others, because you should find your own religion.

Cecilia Ybarra: I see why we’re sort of moving away from the Constitution, because this is a forum to talk about faith and how that influences people’s opinions about gay marriage. Yet I think it’s hard to escape the fact that we are talking about a civil issue; we are talking about law. Because gay marriage, should it happen or should it not? It already happens, 6,000 last year at MCC. As far as church sanctioned within America, gay marriage already happens. So essentially when we’re having this argument, we’re having a civil argument because what’s happening right now is will the state or will the federal government sanction gay marriage. It’s a little hard to escape that part of it. It’s a little hard to say we’re not talking about the Constitution; we’re not talking about that, because there already are Christians who interpret the Bible differently and are living out their faith differently. So I think that as much as we are having a faith-based discussion, and scripture, I think is appropriate to use here to talk about Jesus, we are also talking about the greater culture at large. And I think the anti-gay marriage argument is a little bit like when the civil law allows it to happen, that influences what happens with moral law, which is what’s happening inside the church. It’s hard to get away from that.

Just one little thing. I feel like a couple times we’ve equated homosexuals with mass murderers. I find it to be very different. Homosexuality—you could also compare it to cheating in your marriage. That’s not illegal but it’s also morally offensive. Maybe we can compare it to something more along those lines.

Ben Ku, youth pastor, First Evangelical Church of San Gabriel Valley: I apologize.

Rachel Lizotte, 14, John Burroughs HS: Do you think that if the law is passed, then gay marriages will not happen?

Cecilia Ybarra: Like if the constitutional amendment passes? I feel like a little bit that’s a legal question. I have friends who are lawyers. If the constitutional amendment passes, which in my opinion is sort of unlikely but it’s good politicking right now—but if that were to pass would churches then not be allowed to marry people? I don’t think there’s any civil implications. I don’t think there’s any tax laws that change when they get married, so I think that would still say the same, but that’s sort of a legal question.

Mike Fricano, L.A. Youth Associate Editor: I would agree with you. If the amendment passes, which I also think probably wouldn’t happen, or even if it doesn’t and it’s on a state-by-state basis, there are lawyers lining up on both sides to start their billable hours.

Valentina Cardenas, 16, Ramona Convent: She made a very good point (points to Cecilia). It sounds to me like people are placing homosexuality with murderers and liars. When you say you love the person, but not the sin. Looking at a murderer or a pedophile or a rapist, would you honestly look at them and say, “I love the person you are, I just don’t agree with what you’re doing, I don’t agree you’re molesting a little child or raping a woman.” That doesn’t make sense because we’re already going to make our own assumptions. So I don’t think we look at someone like a gay person—”OK I love who you are just not what you’re doing,” because we’re placing them with horrible people. They’re not horrible people. They’re people who are just like us but they prefer different expressions of whom they love. I don’t think a person’s life should be based on who they’re in love with; I think it should be based on what they did, how they helped the community and if they were a moral person. I don’t think a person’s life should be based on whom they choose to love, rather how they choose to love.

James Bean, youth ministries, Eagle Rock Baptist Church: You asked the question, could we love a murderer or a pedophile as the person that they are but not for what they do. I believe that there is room to love even a murderer, even a pedophile. It may sound kind of harsh to make those comparisons, as far as murderers and homosexuals, but that’s really not the point. The point is that we’re all sinners. I am as much a sinner as some would say a practicing homosexual is. I am guilty of that sin just as much. When I say liar, I’m just saying we’re all sinful and we’re all guilty of something. We could go on and on about religion and gay marriage and homosexuality. I’m not sure that we’ll reach a consensus but before I leave I’d just like to throw something out there about society and how it could affect society. I’d like to pose a question. What is marriage to you all? What is the point of getting married? What is the purpose of family? To me, family and marriage, the whole point, I said earlier in reference to scripture, be fruitful and multiply, and El Ray said that we don’t need to be fruitful and multiply because there’s plenty of people. Sure there are surrogate mothers and there’s plenty of people out there to adopt. But I believe the whole purpose of family is to first of all, take care of your own children, love them and provide for them.

Valentina Cardenas, 16, Ramona Convent: When you say that the purpose of marriage is to produce children. The church is basing their facts on man and women marry to produce children, but what about those men and women who are sterile or who are old?

James Bean, youth ministries, Eagle Rock Baptist Church: I didn’t say that was the purpose of marriage.

Valentina Cardenas, 16, Ramona Convent: When others say it’s for reproduction—well that’s not always the case even when it is a heterosexual couple.

James Bean, youth ministries, Eagle Rock Baptist Church: Marriage, it’s part of a bigger picture. It’s part of the family unit. On a micro size, to provide for your children and your immediate family. And then on a larger system in society, hopefully your family is strong enough that it will strengthen society. I just think that the best picture of marriage is between a man and a woman. A child has so much to gain from a father. A child has so much to gain from a mother. And not to say that a homosexual couple can’t raise a child, but why start off our system that isn’t quite right? Why not promote the ideal? I know we live in a world where ideals don’t always happen, but that’s no reason why we shouldn’t reach for them, and why we shouldn’t say that marriage should be between a man and woman. The idea of the slippery slope—where is the line as far as marriage. If we don’t draw the line at marriage between a man and woman, then the next thing will be why can’t a bisexual person marry their male significant other and their female significant other. And by then, what is marriage anymore? By then, it’s lost all uniqueness.

Libby Hartigan, L.A. Youth Managing Editor: I think it’s a fantastic direction for us to explore. The idea of what is marriage? What is the point of marriage? What is the purpose of family?

Neil Thomas, senior pastor at Metropolitan Community Church in West Hollywood: Most of you can see I have a marriage ring on my finger. My spouse and I have been married for just coming up on our first year. We’ve been together for just over three. We do go forth and multiply. We may not have biological children but everything we do about our lives multiplies goodness and hope and faith and love and all those good things that are moral in our society. I believe that is something that we contribute to the society.

If we’re talking about family as far as children is concerned and having both a masculine and feminine influence in that family, there are lots of lots of gay couples having children who have lots and lots of female and male friends, who are very involved in those children’s lives. In fact, Cecilia and I could probably go out and procreate tomorrow if we wanted to—probably wouldn’t want to, but we could. If we’re looking at family in its biological sense of the word, then there’s absolutely no reason why a gay couple cannot have both a masculine and a feminine influence in that child’s life. I also want to ask the question—who put those children in the system in the first place? And that is heterosexual people, which is why there are children up for adoption. Marriage is already a failing institution, and one of the questions of the gay community has been: why on earth would you want to buy into a failing system when there are already so many heterosexuals ruining marriage left, right and center? Britney Spears can go to Las Vegas and get married and in 51 hours have it annulled. But two people who love each other cannot get married? It just seems an absolute farce of where marriage has gotten to in its present day. Perhaps, as in the past, homosexuals will be the redeeming factor of marriage and will bring a new wave of spirit to marriage that has not been seen in the heterosexual community. And perhaps what we’re seeing in San Francisco and in Oregon and in many other places, we will find that these gay couples who are getting married legally—the gay couples who are getting married—a good 90 percent of those couple that got married in those places have been together for three years or more. And many of them have been together 50 years. If gay couples can stay together with the oppression that so much in our society has given them—if they can stick through that—then perhaps gay people will be the redeeming factor of marriage in our society. I look forward to seeing 50 years down the road—gay couples who have been together in faithful marriage. And perhaps heterosexuals will learn something from what we can bring to marriage.

George Zuo, 15, Sierra Vista HS: If you love someone and that person loves you back, why can’t you get married? Why should it be a sin? Why can’t you get married? If you love someone and they love you, what’s so bad about it?