The lectures were thoughtful and incisive—so much so that I quickly discarded my original plan of staying for a few sessions before returning to work. The speakers, to a T, were academics who based their arguments and presentations on facts and reason, not on bigotry or prejudice. Only one speaker, author Dawn Eden, made an argument based on religious grounds, and her lecture, “Everything is Tolerated and Nothing is Forgiven,” was about chastity and dealing with the excesses of permissiveness, not about the LGBT community. Only three speakers broached the issue of same-sex relationships, and only two of those three explicitly passed judgment on these relationships.
Even then, the arguments were made on strictly rational grounds. Lynn Wardle outlined the case for traditional marriage on the notion that the family was the original, fundamental building block of society as envisioned by the Founding Fathers. Disagree as I may, this was not the rambling of a bigot. This was a reasoned, principled argument based on a fundamental respect for the LGBT community coupled with a specific interpretation of American history.
As I listened to the issues—both agreeing and disagreeing at times—I felt a particular sense of excitement, picking up viewpoints I have seldom heard since coming to Columbia.
But he wondered how come there were so many empty seats in the lecture hall, given that it sold out. It turns out that Columbia University Democrats had obtained a large number of those tickets. They used them to protest the Girgis lecture. As Girgis delivered a talk making an argument for traditional marriage, the CUD crew stood silently and held signs protesting his point of view.
Dontoh, the op-ed writer, was annoyed that the CUD people not only misrepresented on campus what the conference was about, but also denied others the chance to hear what was said. He hasn’t yet learned that extremism in defense of gay rights is no vice.