The Chronicle’s View: There is room for understanding in gay debate

It is seldom the case that a social and political issue is so prevalent in public debate and so far reaching in its societal ramifications that we choose to focus an entire section on its coverage.

But the current debate surrounding gay rights and gay marriage is of such great import that we felt it necessary to set aside an entire issue to address what has become perhaps the most controversial social issue of our time.

We choose not to take a stance one way or the other in the debate, but rather act as a facilitator for what we hope will be an ongoing, open and civil debate between persons on all sides of this multifaceted issue. And that seems to be the most important thing each person can take from the spread of articles and columns in today’s issue-that there must be room for open, civil debate, especially regarding a subject that has typically been discussed with a tone of hostility and anger by parties on many sides of the issue.

Such a healthy debate fosters a fitting environment for learning and understanding. In last week’s rally involving the College Republicans-U Chapter and the Lesbian and Gay Student Union, students voiced their opinions, but their message was likely not received by either party. It seems that more listening must take place in order for bridges of understanding to be erected.

But the rally was, indeed, a good start to a healthy debate on the U campus. The rally was important not because it was about gay rights but because it stands out as a quintessential example of civic engagement by citizens who care enough about the status quo and where it is headed to do something about it. It has been too long since students, of their own volition, felt passionately enough about an issue to publicly take a stand and make their voices heard.

Everybody has an opinion. Everybody has something to share. But without an open, amicable dialogue, nobody’s voice will be heard. No progress will be made. We will remain where we are and continue to build barriers around us, refusing to learn from others-no matter their sexual orientation or preference.

By talking about gay marriage, opponents need not fear that this automatically means the door is open to same-sex marriage. And proponents can rest assured that the door of compromise will not automatically be shut, bolted and double-bolted. Whatever the ultimate outcome in this ongoing debate, it is important to remember that there are people-human beings-with emotions, feelings and beliefs attached to their stance on the issue.

All parties involved must make room for understanding throughout the debate.