T he ever-controversial subject of same-sex marriage will be hashed out tonight on the University of Colorado campus as part of the Aquinas Institute for Catholic Thought`s third-annual "Great Debate" series.

Guest speakers Jonathan Rauch (pro) and Maggie Gallagher (con) will tackle the question "Should the Government Approve Same-Sex Marriage?" at 7 tonight in CU`s Chem 140 lecture hall.

Some students, however, are skeptical about the Catholic center`s claims the debate will be devoid of emotion and purely rational.

"I`ve never heard an emotionless argument from conservatives on this topic," said Jason Palo La Costa, a CU junior and member of campus group Queer People of Color. "Not to mention we`re humans. Emotions are part of everything we do and a topic like this cannot be argued without passion."

Father Kevin Augustyn, director of campus ministry for the Catholic center, said the debate is intended to be a purely intellectual examination of the same-sex marriage debate.

"We exist to serve the university and we want do that through offering the unique Catholic tradition of harmony between faith and reason," Augustyn said. "We are constantly in an intellectual pursuit of truth, and we want to bring that to the university.

"That is what these debates are about: truth."

CU senior Laura Retzer said the debate is a good way to present controversial information to students, but she doesn`t think it will remain strictly professional.


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"Students here have very strong opinions about this issue," Retzer said. "I think the debate could definitely get heated."

CU sophomore Ben Rote said it seems that the debate takes only two sides -- the far left and the far right -- leaving moderate opinions hanging, and in cases of such extremes, no one will be happy.

"Our government cannot possibly please every man, woman and child when it comes to this convoluted issue," Rote said.

Rote`s solution is to let individuals and religion decide what is acceptable marriage and what is not.

CU graduate student Peter Gibbons said he is considering attending the debate, but expects his strong opinions will stand despite the speakers` arguments.

Gibbons` liberal views on the issue will be equally supported and opposed during the debate, Augustyn said. Both sides will be fairly expressed, despite the personal opinions of the Catholic center, and participants in the question-and-answer session are asked to remain civil.

Rauch, a columnist and author, will support same-sex marriage.

"I see my job as persuading conservatives to understand that their own case for the social benefits of marriage doesn`t suddenly become false when you apply it to gays," Rauch said in a news release.

Opposing Rauch`s point is Gallagher, the president for the National Organization for Marriage, who will defend the union of marriage as a husband and wife.

"Same-sex unions are not marriages," Gallagher said in a news release. "Treating them as marriages, and particularly misusing government to require others in the society to do so, is profoundly unjust."

If you go

What: "Great Debate: Should the Government Approve Same-Sex Marriage?"

When: 7 tonight

Where: Chem 140, University of Colorado campus, Boulder

Cost: $5 for students, $10 for non-students

thomascenter.org