Debate on Question #1, the anti-marriage amendment at the Fairfax Government Center

On Friday, October 27th, the Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations and the Fairfax Committee of 100 co-sponsored a debate about Question #1, the Marshall/Newman “marriage” Amendment at the Fairfax Government Center.
Standing against the amendment were Jim Dyke, a partner at McGuire Woods and a former VA Secretary of Education, and Doug Koelemay, Managing Director at Qorvis Communications. Standing for the amendment were Delegate Bob Marshall, patron of the amendment and Victoria Cobb, executive director of the Family Foundation of Virginia. A Fairfax Public Access, Channel 10, film crew were taping; look on Channel 10 for replays of the event.

On a night where the weather was uncooperative, somewhere between 100 and 200 people showed up to hear the debate. Unfortunately, it seemed to be mostly a theater of the decided as roughly 80% of the audience seemed to strongly disapprove of the amendment with perhaps 20% of the audience in favor of it. It wasn’t clear how many undecided voters were actually there. This shows how much of a non-issue this is for the general public when only people whose lives are personally affected and those who through intolerance or misunderstanding want to hurt us.

The other disappointment was that the format was not interactive. Though audience questions were taken, they had to be pre-written before the debate started and were selected by the event sponsors. While this does allow them to screen out off topic questions, it doesn’t allow any follow up based on answers.

Still, despite this limitation, the event was interesting.

For example, according to Mrs. Cobb, our families aren’t families. According to her, we are “so-called families.” For a person who claims to be so concerned about the welfare of families to be so committed to working to ensure ours are disadvantaged is beyond comprehension.

Delegate Marshall reprised his well-worn litany of exaggerations and generalizations quoting limited studies and questionable statistics he said support his position that children should only be raised by heterosexuals, therefore marriage should be reserved for heterosexuals. He said “gay marriage is like a square circle; not possible.”

Mr. McQuire and Mr. Koelemay made some excellent points about the unintended consequences of the amendment, some of the most serious being the consequences to victims of domestic violence. Ms. Cobb and Delegate Marshall tried to gloss over with responses that amounted to, “that can’t happen here. Trust us. If it does, we’ll fix it.” Something says they’d be very selective about the “unintended” consequences they decided to fix.

Sadly, the following questions that should have been asked, never were given a hearing:

How does allowing two men or two women to marry affect a single heterosexual marriage?

Name one consequence of gay marriage in Massachusetts except that thousands of gay couples have been able to protect their families?

Since these questions were not answered, make sure they continue to be asked! Questions like these expose the hypocrisy of the pro-amendment position, and those people who are undecided about how to vote need to hear both the questions and the loud lack of an answer.

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