Gay-marriage proponent at conference will bring a healthy perspective at this open forum

The Undergraduate Marriage, Family and Dating Conference, being held at Saint Louis University on April 8 and 9, should not be a field day for anger and controversy; as many hosting the event have mentioned, it is an event meant to teach individuals, as if in a classroom setting, about the most important of human connections.

When Todd Salzman, the speaker for the event and a proponent of monogamous gay marriage, promises to bring an alternate perspective to what should be an institute of higher education, we need to be welcoming and curious.

We all have opinions on such controversial issues as gay marriage; free and open discourse is the middle ground that we all should be able to agree upon. Free speech should be encouraged.

Catholic community members have expressed strong disagreement and concern with the choice of bringing the Creighton University theology professor to campus. Theology Club, in hosting this conference, is doing an excellent job in promoting education about the topic of marriage and relationships.

By calling on students to present papers and research, and by offering a reputable speaker to share his perspectives and experience, they epitomize higher learning.

They are creating a forum in which sex, dating, marriage and other relationships can be discussed at an intellectual level, and this only elevates the standard of education that SLU offers. It is not a way to destroy the Jesuit mission or run counter to Catholic ideals.

The complaints against the speaker are only justifiable if the conference were somehow preaching the message of Salzman and advocating that all who attend should share in his beliefs.

But several perspectives – the papers submitted by students – will be expressed freely, and debate and argument are being encouraged.

Debate is the proper, intellectual way to clash opposing ideas to see the truth that lies quietly in between. Argumentation and questioning are fully espoused by the goals of this conference.

This is a forum in which debate can take place about such an intrinsic part of human life.

Relationships govern our interactions with those closest to us, and this conference is a laudable step towards understanding the closest relationship of all – that between loving individuals.