By Mason Votes Staff Writer Ethan Vaughan
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell has a long history of championing conservative positions on social issues like gay marriage, but with Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds stating his belief marriage is “between a man and a woman,” the campaign for the Governor’s Mansion is proceeding with a uniformity of opinion from both sides on one of the Commonwealth’s most divisive and emotional issues.
With neither side taking up the cause of gay rights, some voters feel as if their choices have been curtailed.
“I think Deeds is too conservative, but he’s the more liberal of the two,” said George Mason University senior Phil Dudley. “I’m for gay marriage and I feel that gay people should have the same rights as straight people. As for the Virginia Marriage Amendment, I disagree with it. Gay people should be able to visit their significant other in the hospital, should be able to have access to insurance, should be treated the same as everyone else. Gay rights isn’t the deciding factor in my vote, but it’s something I would take into account.”
Most students were quick to voice opposition to the 2006 Virginia Marriage Amendment, which not only bars same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth but also declared that the state “shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage.” The amendment effectively outlawed civil unions.
“If you have two consenting adults, marriage is fine,” said freshman Kelly Harrington. “I’ve had teachers who were gay and known other people who were gay, and they deserve to get married if they want to. If there were a choice between the candidates, I would be more likely to vote for the pro-gay rights one, but with all the problems we have that probably wouldn’t be the first thing I’d think about.”
Alejandro Asin, a co-chair with Mason’s Pride Alliance, said that while the group was primarily focused with providing a safe space for Mason students to discuss sexuality and gender issues, it nonetheless “supports gay marriage.”
“Forcing marriage won’t promote tolerance,” Asin said. “It won’t affect people staying underground their whole lives, but we’re very much for same-sex marriage.”
Asin decried what he saw as the lack of diversity among the candidates’ positions on the issue, saying he thought it left the gay community with no real representation.
“I don’t believe either party helps us,” Asin admitted. “But the Democrats are a little bit better. Both political candidates are trying to play moderate, and it’s always been that way. Theoretically the Democrats are more in favor of LGBT and gay rights, but they keep moving close to the middle, trying to be in the center. They invoke civil rights, but they don’t want to go all the way because they’re worried about looking too liberal.”
Thomas Francis, a Fellowship of Catholic University Students missionary at Mason, said that he “heartily supports” the Virginia Marriage Amendment.
“I support the traditional understanding of marriage, namely, that it is limited to one man and one woman,” Francis stated. “The Catholic Church loves and cares for everyone with an attraction to members of the same gender. It wants for them what it wants for every person: to find true happiness in a close relationship with Jesus Christ and to be holy life according to the way of life that Jesus revealed.”
Francis conceded that many young people seemed to be in favor of gay marriage, but was adamant that fact didn’t change his views.
“My faith plays a central role in my life,” said Francis. “It’s a set of beliefs I subscribe to, and I shouldn’t have to change it based on what sphere I’m in.”
Brach Cobb, a fourth-year graduate student, agreed.
“I don’t see the candidates’ opposition to gay marriage as a problem,” he said. “I believe in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and I hold that in higher esteem than gay marriage. I don’t have a problem with gay people. I’m a Christian and that’s where I stand from a biblical viewpoint, and my faith plays the main part in that.”