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Debating the future of marriage

| Monday, February 8, 2016

Tonight in DeBartolo Hall, the Tocqueville Program will host a debate between Stephen Macedo and Ryan T. Anderson on the future of marriage, gay rights and religious freedom. Macedo is the Rockefeller Professor of politics at Princeton, as well as the former Director for the University Center of Human Values, and Anderson, who earned his Ph.D from Notre Dame in 2014, is a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and the most prominent spokesman in defense of conjugal marriage.

Anderson and Macedo have both published important books in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. It is an honor and a privilege to welcome both to our campus.

The Court’s decision in June did not end the argument surrounding the future of marriage, religious freedom or gay rights. As witnessed by events this past fall, including the Kim Davis affair in Kentucky, many questions remain — and the country remains divided — concerning the nature of marriage and the relationship between gay rights and religious freedom. That is why Notre Dame must participate in this discussion.

We, the authors, disagree on just about everything in this debate. One thing we do agree upon, however, is the importance of participating in reasonable discussion and debate in pursuit of the truth, especially with respect to a topic as controversial as the subject of this debate. Too often in conversations of this nature, reasons are trumped by emotions and insults take the place of arguments. There is a better way to engage controversial and important issues, and these two speakers will show us how to elevate the level of our public discourse.

On campus, students have a tendency to discuss contentious issues only with like-minded peers, retreating from opportunities to engage with those who disagree with them. As members of this University community, we all are or should be committed to the pursuit and sharing of truth for its own sake. One way in which we can come to a greater understanding of truth is by engaging in reasoned argument with those who disagree with us. Doing so allows us to better understand each other and to come to a deeper appreciation of the nuances of the issue in question, in the process either strengthening our convictions or else realizing that our reasoning may be flawed.

In the spirit of intellectual engagement, we invite the student body to attend this debate and participate in the conversation.

The Tocqueville Program, BridgeND and the Dean’s Fellows are sponsoring the debate, which will begin at 7 p.m. in DeBartolo 155.

Tim Bradley
off-campus
President of Students for Child-Oriented Policy

Seamus Ronan
off-campus
Dean’s Fellows

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • João Pedro Santos

    LOL, as if opposing human rights and arbitrary discrimination was a matter of opinion… Well, it isn’t. It’s prejudice.

  • MJ

    I wish I was going to be there for this debate. Will there be any discussion of the difference between marriage as a sacrament and marriage as a civil legal construct? Since the former has not changed but the latter has, it would seem questions regarding the future of it would want to address this issue. I am sure it will be interesting.