Panel explores LGBT issues

By Aquantonice Benison

The difference between civil unions and marriage was one of the major topics at Wednesday’s panel discussion, “Gays of Our Lives: LGBT people in the media, at the altar and on the campus.”

About 40 people came to hear the question-and-answer session that kicked off Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Awareness Month.

The six members of the panel said a civil union between two people only is recognized in the state where the couple resides because the government doesn’t want to recognize a same-sex union. In a marriage, the government acknowledges the union between a man and a woman.

The panel also discussed how the government is trying to disable the right of free will and freedom of choice by creating an amendment that would ban the state from acknowledging same-sex relationships. If the amendment passes, it would be the first discriminatory amendment put into the Constitution, the panel said.

During the discussion, panelists shared individual stories about coming out and allowing the world to know that they chose to date the same sex.

“I liked the fact that they were honest and blunt about how they came out,” junior business major Timothy Salter said. “They weren’t afraid to tell us about themselves or about their relationships.”

Margie Cook, coordinator of the LGBT Resource Center, opened the event with an overview of the evening.

When the topic of religion came up, the panel summed it up with one sentence: “People use the Bible as weapon instead of as a guide.” It said religion scolds and frowns upon those who choose not to live as the first man and woman lived. It also said that the Bible states many things that today’s society completely disregards because it has become accustomed to that form of living.

The panel also explored the idea that the media plays an important role in how the world views the alternative lifestyle with television programs that supposedly portray the gay community accurately. They discussed television shows such as “Will and Grace,” where the character Will plays a homosexual attorney who finally has found a relationship that he could consider steady for the first time in years.

Panelists also offered their advice for individuals who are unsure of what lifestyle they want to live by.

“I was sort of confused about some mixed feelings I have about a friend of mine, and I am comfortable with that,” sophomore communication major Tracy Tarce said.

The panel said that just because someone is unsure doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is gay, lesbian or even bisexual but only that he or she is curious.