Mainstreet Radio's Rachel Raebe explores the history of the Great American Think-Off, held annually in New York Mills, Minn. The Think-Off is now in its twelfth year, and its organizers bill it as an opportunity for regular people to engage in serious discourse. This year, the amateur philosophers will address the question of same-sex marriage.
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(00:00:00) Minnesota public radio's Main Street radio coverage is supported by blandin Foundation based in Grand Rapids dedicated to strengthening rural Minnesota communities through its leadership development programs grants and public policy initiatives. Good afternoon, and welcome to this Main Street special from the home of the Great American think off the New York Mills Minnesota. I'm Rachel re be this year's debate topic is both timely and provocative should same-sex marriages be prohibited. We've all heard what the experts have to say, the politicians and Priests and pollsters pastors and policymakers. But how about your average person on the street? What does he or she think about same-sex marriages? That's where the think off comes in. It's a forum where amateur philosophers have a chance to weigh in with their opinions today. You'll meet the four finalists in this 12th annual Great American think off and get a preview of their strongest arguments line abelar is also with us today. She's the executive director of the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center. Which runs the Great American think off. Good afternoon Linna well, Come to Main Street. Thank you. It's great to be here the Great American think off gets underway Saturday at 7 p.m. At the high school auditorium. Just down the street from us. What can we expect that night? How's it going to work? You mean the whole event that takes place? Well in the beginning we have the national anthem and we have a brief introduction by me and then the contestants they will begin with Jim and so on you will each read their essays and then they will be asked a couple of questions. Each one will be asked a couple of questions and then the other person gets a chance to rebut them. And then at the end of that the audience decides who has made the best argument for their side and then because these two are taking the same side, correct and then the and then Robert and Christie who are on the other side they do the same thing. And again, they read their essays of the audience listens to their art their answers to the questions and then they Side who makes the best argument for their side of the issue the winners who are chosen by the audience after intermission, we'll come back for the championship bout and they will then also be asked about four questions and the audience will also get a chance to ask a couple of questions too. And so that adds it's a pretty like a presidential debate format. So you asked a question. You have a few minutes to answer it then the other person gets a chance to maybe offer a rebuttal and then at the end of that the audience again will decide who made the best argument and they will be chosen America's greatest thinker and what does America's greatest thinker win America's greatest thinker wins a wonderful metal. But they also get some other things to they all of the finalists get prize money 500 dollars in prize money and they get an all-expense-paid vacation to New York Mills, which if you're coming from New York New York City is really kind of a cool deal because there's a lot of good stuff in between two. It's been coming from Wadena. It's maybe not as big of a thrill but and I understand that the gold medal actually on it is a picture of The Thinker. Yes riding. It cracked Fact one of the one of the winners said that he was really enjoying the debate of the few years back and he said he was really enjoying the debate but he did and he didn't really care if he won so much. He was just enjoying the debate until he saw that metal and then he wanted to win how many people do you expect to be in the audience on Saturday? We will have about 500. We usually have last year we had over 300 but I think this year's question is going to bring out even more people. It's as you said is very Only very provocative and of course, we knew that when we chose it but we chose a back of November. So we had no idea how much it would be talked about how timely and I'll talk how provocative that would be. Well, let's begin with our preview of the debate. We're going to start with Robert Larose. You're a 44 year-old Rider from Uniondale New York. You do not believe that same-sex marriages should be prohibited. Mr. LaRoche your strongest argument. Well, I think we allow we read the plays that that gay people right for us. We listen to the songs that they sing in the case of Congressman Barney Frank. We elect them to high public office and ask them to lead us we invite them into our homes every week and television programs like Will and Grace we accept their advice on matters of taste and style and clothes like in Queer Eye For The Straight Guy and if they keep their mouths closed Let them enlist in the military and fight and sometimes died protecting us. We accept their contributions to our society, but we exclude them from the one Human Institution that seems to be common to all societies, which is marriage and I think that's not fair. Thank you. That's Robert Larose arguing on the other side of the question is twenty-year-old Sonia Hathaway. She's a college student from Grand Forks North Dakota and believes that same-sex marriages should be prohibited Miss Hathaway. I believe the difference is between men and women make marriage one of the strongest. institutions to raise children in and it's part of the strength of families that allow our society to be strong. and when you think about it even evolution states that in or believes in the survival of the fittest homosexual marriages cannot procreate So that's your strongest argument. Thank you. Our third contestant. Christie Hicks is a 34 year old educator from Ferndale, Michigan. She does not think same-sex marriages should be prohibited Miss Hicks. Well for me, the argument is really one of human dignity and compassion when I look not at same-sex marriage as as a category not as homosexuals at a category, but rather I look at at the same sex couples that I know Bob and Randy who I wrote about in my essay Cindy Lou Who I knew from work. I mean different different people who I've met and as I look at their lives and compare what's available to them without marriage to what's available to me and my husband Greg that we take for granted every day. There was someone who went into the research of looking at federal laws and what rights are provided to married people that are not provided to And people there are one thousand forty nine of them on the books. And these are things like if God forbid in the case of Bob and Randy one of them should fall critically ill the person who knows them best could be denied the right to see them in the hospital the right to make their medical decisions and that's something that my husband and I take for granted they own a home together and yet they can't file their taxes to jointly and so they don't have the economic benefits of that. They don't have the benefit of family leave for example again that my husband and I take for granted and to me that makes the denial of the right to marry something that's discriminatory against same-sex couples. Thank you. And our final debater is Jim shots a 68 year old retiree from Luxemburg, Wisconsin. He takes the position that same-sex marriages should be prohibited. Mr. Shantz. I have to take issue with the 68 year old assessment here. I'm really only 59 celebrating that birthday for the tenth time exome. I stand corrected sir. I took a look at history. If you will namely of this country when it was founded over 200 years ago the founding fathers all the things that they referred to at the time that they were preparing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They had no difficulty in referring to and speaking about God the they appealed to God they felt that the wisdom came from God and they wanted that wisdom when they founded this country. If we accept God as an important part of this and in fact a real part of it, then we go back and look into what he has told us namely that marriage is between a man and a woman in the Bible. He states that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. And that's how the Next Generation and generations and generations throughout all of history have happened to bring us to the point where we're at today. So the question comes to my mind, what is it now that all of a sudden has made us so smart that we now need to change the definition of marriage from a man and a woman to just about anything that you want it to be. We may be talking about same-sex marriage now, but if you look ahead a little bit and you open it up and say that well, it's got to be fair. And this sort of thing if that's the criteria, then where does the line be drawn working the line be drawn in the future polygamy. Can you really stop that bestiality if you want to go to that extent mother and son sister brother? Where do you stop it? I think it's a Pandora's Box. We can't afford to open. Thank you, Jim Shantz. We've just heard the four finalist in this year's Great American think off. They'll be squaring off for the title on Saturday night at 7 p.m. In the auditorium of the New York Mills High School. I'm Rachel riebe. This is a special Main Street broadcast from the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center listeners. Our phone lines are open for your questions and comments. If you're in the Twin Cities, you can call us at 6'5 12276 thousand. If you're outside the metro area calls it 1-800 to for to 2828 those numbers again 6512276 Was it in the Twin Cities 1-800 to for to 2828 outside the metro area and we're interested in hearing what your opinion is should same-sex marriages be prohibited which candidate do you think presented the strongest argument? If you'd like to submit your question or comment online you can do so by logging on to Minnesota Public Radio dot org and click on send a question, Minnesota Public Radio dot org and click on send a question think off organizers might also use your questions in Saturday night's debate, Minnesota Public Radio dot org and click on send a question. I think the question that is going through my mind and is probably going through the minds of our listeners is what caused you to enter this year's think off. Let's start with you Christy. When did you first hear about it? And what got you actually to put pen to paper? Well, I believe that I heard about it back somewhere along in January and it was Literally a 20 second item on a news radio station just a mention of the think off and the website and because I'm someone who's been very interested in ideas for a long time. And I think there are so few venues in our society right now that that bring together common people give them the opportunity to really have authentic discourse about ideas. And in this case one that potentially has great policy implications. It seems to me that it that it's an extremely important event because ultimately if the discourse doesn't happen, how can we make a well thought through decision about what's best for our society at large. So I was very attracted to it from from that perspective from my interest in ideas. And then when I saw the topic specifically for this year as I mentioned earlier for me same-sex couples aren't a concept they're real people and so really in honor of those real People in my life. So I felt like it was really important for me to to submit the essay and was fortunate enough to be selected. So you're probably closest coming from Grand Forks your closest to New York Mills had you heard of the think off before was this the first time you've ever heard about it. This was the first time I'd ever heard about it. I have a teacher from University of Minnesota Crookston who told our class about it and gave us an assignment to write an essay for this year because of that. I wrote the essay and after she looked at it she said hey, you should really turn it in. So I went ahead and did that and here I am and are you kind of shocked that now you're going to be taking the stage and battling out for America's greatest thinker. I mean was this kind of a quick quick Journey? Well, the time really has gotten quick since then, but yeah, it was kind of a surprise. Jim how about you? Well the way that I heard about the Great American think off was through my daughter Katie's husband Todd Eric's rude who happens to be from New York Mills. Perfect. So in February or March, he mentioned this and he mentioned the topic and he's aware from various articles that I write in shouldn't say articles letters to The Forum letter letter to the editor and the Green Bay Press Gazette from the writings that I have done there. He was familiar with my attitude towards the issue of same size sex subject. So this is a subject that you already felt very strongly about you didn't just think she I'm going to I'm going to go for the think off and I'll see what this year's topic is. No. No, this is something that I feel has very deep implications for this country. So he told me what the Or Matt was and I got in touch with Linna and found out what I needed to do. So I wrote the essay and submitted it and was pleased to find out that I happen to be one of the four Robert. How about you? I remember hearing about the Great American think off a few years ago. And at the time it struck me as a wonderful way to have a discussion about great ideas in our society. We don't often get the chance to do that or when it does happen. It's usually done by the by the same celebrated people. So I had filed it away in the back of my mind and then earlier this year. I was looking for a challenge. I'm a writer by trade, but the writing that I do tends to be mostly marketing and corporate Communications where what I'm selling are not ideas. They are products and services and I wanted to find an It that would that would challenge me that would use my skills. And that would be on something that I would find the quite interesting. So I went to Google and I typed in Great American think often lo and behold it came up on the website and I mentioned that to line up and I think that now the Great American think off truly is on the map when it comes up number one in the in the Google search and I had decided even before I knew what the topic was that I was going to go ahead and and enter the contest so you were ready for any question. I was ready for any question of in my family. We've had Through The Years a hundred literate. Well, probably literally thousands of discussions around the dining room table on political issues social issues from the time that we were young. I can remember in 1972 going to attend a rally for President Nixon when he came to our town and in 1968. Taking a trip down to Washington DC and winning a color photograph of President Kennedy. So politics and social issues have always been very important in our family and the Great American think off provided a wonderful Forum to take the interest that I have in there and and get some get some ideas out in a very constructive way. I'm Rachel rebe and we are here in New York Mills to talk about the Great American think off now in its 12th year and the debate is going to be 7:00 p.m. Saturday night right here in New York Mills. We're going to go to the phone now. Mike is standing by and Foley. Good afternoon, Mike. Welcome to Main Street. Thanks. Good afternoon, I guess common for everybody there. Like what what I guess what I've heard some pretty well thought out type of arguments, I guess the arguments but well thought out Sides to you know, really kind of both sides of the issue that's going on and I guess just a background for for everybody that's listening is you know, I've a master's degree and Theology and you know a business be a as well, so, you know, this issue is well talked throughout in the universities and colleges across the country and it really kind of gets back to a couple different things gets back to you know, one States and belief but it also gets back to kind of the the other business applicant, you know implications of why folks that, you know, make a choice to be same-sex marriage or same-sex partners. Why should the state federal government step up and assist those people for making a choice, you know, the differently doesn't go along with the history of what marriage and the true sanctuary of what the what the whole you know throughout history of what theologies taught us. And I think the last gentleman that spoke really can I hit it hit it off really well is that you know, it's comes out a couple simple sentences out of an eve. It's not Adam and Steve. And why should we have to taxpayers have to pay for these people that make a choice to have a different type of Lifestyle. I think that's actually what it gets back to this issue you a chance to respond. Why should taxpayers pay for benefits for same-sex marriages? Well, I think the Crux of the question I noticed the word choice was used several times when the question was asked and so it's based on the assertion that people actually make a choice to have an attraction to a person two people of the same sex versus the opposite sex. And and so the problem that I have with that premise is that I don't remember choosing to be heterosexual. I don't remember that moment in my life and I've not seen research ever that indicates that it is a choice on the part of the say five percent of our population. And so so for that reason, I find it to be discriminatory to say that they're not Able to have those benefits. Let's go to Thomas in Chaska, Minnesota. Good afternoon Thomas. Welcome to Main Street. Thomas said we got you on the line. Okay, we will come back to him lineup. Did you have something you wanted to add? Well, I do because I think I want to remind people that the question was should same-sex marriages be prohibited. And so we really entering and that was one of the reasons that these finalists were all chosen was that they address the issue from that from that point of view. It's really easy. I think to start talking about whether or not you're homosexual or whether or not that's a choice of whether that's it. But the question is should it be prohibited and that takes you into another realm of discussion on one which is a philosophical discussion because it has to do with the the freedoms that a society grants or doesn't Grant to individuals well, and it's interesting because you said early on that. This is a philosophical debate not a political debate, but because this question and this subject has so many ramifications. We are in a presidential. Joel campaign year how because there have been other questions over the years does God exist is honesty always the best policy is the pen mightier than the sword. I mean compared to those questions. This thing is red hot. Yes, and certainly that the you know timeliness of it is too but a few years ago. We asked the question should assisted suicide be legal. And also we ask the question was the death penalty ethical in a civilized society. So quite often philosophy does merge with politics because because politics is is our life as we relate to the country and philosophy. Maybe it's something more personal but it's all it's all there. It's all part of the discussion and the whole point of the think office to have a forum where it can be discussed and where people with differing opinions can come together and civilized discourse and deal with it in the way that politicians, you know should be dealing with it. And in fact one of my Releases I said perhaps instead of us listening to the politicians. They should be listening to us. I'm not sure they're doing that. But what if that's an idea, but they say they want to hear the voice of the people. Well, I mean, this is the voice of the people and we have very good arguments on both sides of the issue. Thomas was not on the phone. He sent in a question via the web. So this is the question from Thomas do those that disagree with same-sex marriage also disagree with the separation of church and state. Jim what do you think about that? I think my orange is better than your Apple. We're not comparing the same things and that's kind of a specious argument and I've noticed that there's a lot of that that seems to be inherent in this debate if we talk about choice for example, as a previous caller at talked about I don't think it's a choice of whether you felt an attraction heterosexual or homosexual e, it's the choice of what you did with that feeling. So everyone has a choice in that respect as to where they go from there. So if we kind of keep in focus on what it is that we're trying to talk about then it can take on a whole different look as to what the argument actually is. Jose is on the phone from st. Paul. Good afternoon, Jose. Welcome to Main Street. Yes, please. I've been listening to the discussion. And first of all, I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to Audience through the font and I was very concerned how many people use the word God to be against the homosexuality. And again, this is a possibility of same-sex couples to get married with the same. Right and before anything. I think that God loves everybody all creature of life regardless of sex color. It is ethnicity or sexual preference or anything. So first God is magnificent in his love so I don't see why not that people cannot the same try. It's like everybody else and I was surprised for some comments that I here before me coming to the to speak about the taxes. Somebody say that why we have to pay taxes for these people, right? But people don't know is that these people pay taxes like everybody else. So if we have same rights and same duties we should The same rights like everybody else nothing special nothing better or worse, but be treated equally like the rest of the society and as a for again in this country I came here and I'm very proud to be now an American citizen, but when I came to this country, I was coming to the country of freedom and this is the country of Freedom where everybody had the same rights, so that's that's mine. Thank you for your call today Sony any comments on that. I guess I have to agree that yes. God loves everyone but does God like what everyone does can God honestly accept every behavior is right. We have a former. Yes, of course Robert one thing. I do believe that religion should play some kind of influence in life. But there is a reason why this country is a democracy and not a theocracy. Does God like homosexuals? I have no idea if God likes them or not. I suppose you could make the argument that he created them to begin with. Not only that but science tells us that there are over 300 vertebrae species that exist that demonstrate homosexual tendencies, so I can't accept the argument that God is going to condemn homosexuality and that everything else is acceptable when clearly Nature and Science Show us. Otherwise, I understand we have a former Her of the Great American think off in the audience today. Babri. Ha Rachel. We have Stephen Schultz who was 1997 winner of the Great American think off. It was a controversial subject then as well. It had to deal with the death penalty were telling me. Yeah, it was is the death penalty ethical in a civilized society. It's kind of a mouthful. So Steve you're used to debating a Hot Topic. Well, I wouldn't say I'm used to it but I did it well and I understand that a prisoner was actually chosen as a finalist in that debate, but he had a problem getting here. Actually. I'm I believe that was a previous debate that wasn't in the one that somehow that's been tied up in the 97 debate, but I don't think so that not in that particular one. Okay. So you submitted your essay in 1997. Was it the topic or was it the process that intrigued you absolutely was a process. I was a radio reporter and I had covered the think off for many years and ended up moving up into this area in a nearby town called Purim and just decided that. Was going to tally one more essay in the contest because I believed in the contest. I had no idea what the question would be at that time. Okay. So you're selected as a finalist. You come to New York Mills for the debate you had a radio background, but were you still nervous when you got up on that stage to State your piece? Absolutely. I was paralyzed with fear helps doesn't it? That's totally different to go up there armed only with your wits and your knowledge and and your smarts and and go up against other people who are doing the same. You really don't ever have to do that up until that point you argued on what side of the question I argued against the death penalty. Did you know it was going? Well, did you feel like you had the audience when you were speaking not right away that we talked about the timeliness of the think off. That was the same weekend that Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death. So when I said death penalty everyone thought Tim McVeigh and I was trying to argue that that wasn't the normal death penalty case. I'd seen polls the week leading up to that that 77% of people were in favor of the death penalty and only 28 some against and I thought I didn't have a chance at all as the debate war on a lot of the questions from the audience that were really tough for me at the start. They started going after my opponent a little more. So I had a feeling it was going a little bit better for me. The question that we all have is how is life now with a gold medal as a great American thing. I'm wearing it right now. Actually he is not if he is at inside his shirt. He's lying at work. So how did how did Exchange for you. Actually, the one thing I really want to do is get involved in the cultural center. After that. I felt like they'd contest really gave me something and so I got involved and helped out with the committee for a few years and did what I could with the cultural center to give a little back. We're your friends and family members and co-workers. Did they kind of think? Yes. Is the Great American Thinker over they sort of like what happened? I tried to convince them that they had to call me America's greatest thinker for a year, but it never really caught on. Okay, so will you be At Saturday night's debate. Yes, they will. Okay. Excellent. Thank you so much. This is the former winner from 1997 life has gone on for Steve Schultz. But as the Great American Thinker, our phone lines are open for your questions and comments today. You can call us at 6'5 12276 thousand if you're in the Twin Cities, if you're outside the Metro calls at one eight hundred to four to Twenty Eight Twenty Eight. We're interested to hear what your opinion is. You can also submit your question by logging on to Minnesota Public Radio dot org and click on send a question. I'm Rachel rebe and this is a special Main Street broadcast from New York Mills. Now, this is a question that came via the web from Steve should the fact of choosing not to have children or not being able to have children prevent a man and woman from marrying. What do you think about that? Yes, Jim, of course not marriage is defined in the dictionary and everything that the culture has ever been as the union between a man and a woman if children come from that and that's what it's originally designed for terrific. If something were to be present physically that prevents that or Simple Choice that is a choice within marriage to me. And Robert do you think that's an argument on your side of the table? Well, what I would say is this the marriage vows that we've all come to know to have and to hold from this day forward Etc have been around since approximately the fifteen hundreds that come from the book of common prayer and they're very simple. They're very direct and the very elegant but nowhere in those marriage vows. Does it say anything about children or family and if straight couples who are infertile or can have children can Avail themselves of the reproductive technology that allows them to have children? Why can't same-sex couples do the same. I'd also point out that 28% of same-sex couples do raise children. So it is not a question of well same-sex couples cannot procreate. They're for children and families are not a part of it. There are other ways that they can raise children and and 28 percent of them already. Do let's go to the phones John from Brooklyn Park is on the line. Good afternoon, John. Welcome to Main Street. Yes. Hi. Thank you for taking my call. This is a very important issue that is going to affect the existence of America. We're talking about preserving the future of America 80 years from now if allow every man gets married to another man eight years from now there may not be an America. So I just want the panel to take this really really seriously and know that this debate or discussion is not just for the now but a century from now what's going to happen to this country. We've come here because we thought things had that we like but is discussion like this and ideals like this. They're going to run people away from America and cause America to go down so fast, we never know what we're going to end up we see I'm assuming you don't agree with that at all. Well, I agree that it's a very important debate. Absolutely. It's a very important issue and what we decide as a society is going to have long-term implications for for our society and for the institution of marriage. And I believe for the strengthening of marriage that the more people we can bring to the institution who are in fact committed to each other who believe in Fidelity and who are coming into that Mutual support system, which is what I believe marriage ultimately is about with same-sex marriages drive people away from this country. I don't think so. And the reason that I don't think so is that if you look over time homosexuality occurs in our population at a rate depending on who's I've heard estimates as high as 10% I've heard them as low as three most people split the difference and say, okay well five six percent if the ability to marry a person of the same sex becomes available, it affects that five percent of our population. I know that for me if I were a single person right now and I suddenly had the ability to marry another woman. I don't think that I would Avail myself of that opportunity because I simply am not attracted to other women and so really it's a small proportion. Portion of our population and and the sky won't fall as a result of it. We have Becky from Bloomington on the line. Good afternoon Becky. Welcome to Main Street. Hi, I just found a appreciate Christie's kind of more humanistic perspective on the issue and really strengthen the point that these people aren't perverts and criticize the absurdity of placing homosexuality on a Continuum with bestiality and pedophilia because these are two consenting adults and also just make one last point that marriage has historically been racist elitist and Prejudice and that may be rather than you know sticking in this is pretty radical idea, but maybe come up with something new that doesn't have roots in such a like a, you know, a negative Prejudice path. Sonia what do you think about that? Do we need to come up with something new to replace the institution of marriage? Why marriage has been around for so long? That through place it would be saying that it must not have worked before. Our culture has survived through Millions. millions of different incidences that have placed us on the edge of so many possible horrible things that We've made it through this far. I think marriage can continue to be the strength and support that our culture needs to survive for longer. Here's a question that came via the web from Paul. Is there a difference between same-sex marriage and same-sex Union and if so, what is that difference? Well, I think that there there is a significant difference between same-sex marriage and same-sex Union when we look at the rights that I spoke of before the state of California, which is one of the few states which which allows same-sex unions affords under same-sex unions about 15 legal rights 15. If you happen to be a heterosexual couple marriage will guarantee you over 300 rights in the state of California in addition to those 1049 that I already spoke of. So there's there's definitely a significant difference there. The other difference I think is what it does in our in the mind of our society and that is its offering up a less than opportunity. It's saying that we can have marriage light we can have. Well you can sort of be married and it really complicates the issue because what happens is if you're allowing If you're allowing unions, if you're allowing partnership benefits, for example, what's happened with partnership benefits is actually complicated things. We've said, okay, we're not going to let our homosexual neighbors marry each other, but we don't want to discriminate. So we're going to give them something else. We're going to give them other Bennett, you know benefits that are not quite marriage, but you know, you'll get your health benefits from your employer you can do that. But then you've then you have heterosexual Partnerships who are demanding the same rights. And so to me that's weakening to marriage. We have Greg on the line from Duluth. Good afternoon, Greg. Welcome to Main Street. Hi, I appreciate intellectual conversation. That's why I listen to National Public Radio, but I think that an issue like this can be over intellectualized and I certainly don't mean to end the conversation but I would just make the comments that In our country, we have struggled with different kinds of equality throughout our history and I think that with this issue it comes back to that simple thing either. We're all created equal or we're not and if we're not then we should get busy making the list of who's equal and who's not that's my comment. I just like to hear what you think. Thinkers. What do you think? What I what I would say is that yes, I do agree that we are all created equal. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be a strong enough reason not to fight and argue and debate as our history has shown there are many issues that we've had to argue as and change in order to get some progress made we talked about marriage as if it were this fixed permanent State as if it were this tradition that has been the same from time immemorial and that simply isn't isn't the case at one time a husband could legally rape his wife. Another time wives were considered the property of their husbands and it wasn't until 1967 that interracial marriages were even allowed. So marriage has actually evolved from from olden days to the present now, we're now we're talking about Out about same-sex marriages, but but it it things have changed. Unfortunately. They've had to change often with fight with a fight and with struggle and in this case with a reasonable discussion. So yes, we are all created equal, but you can't let it lie just with equality. Here's a comment from Bill who sent in his question online. The Mandate of law is to protect the rights of citizens. How does the legalization of gay marriage affect my rights as a straight citizen? Jim is that a concern? When we look at rights. Are their rights that are reserved for certain categories of people marriage is one of those categories where there are certain rights for them. They've been recognized throughout history. There have been advantages which have been given to them and whether you want to call them rights or whatever because they recognize that this is the unit that raises the Next Generation if you look at a same-sex Arrangement as far as children are concerned whether they're adopted or whether one of the parties to the the couple brought one in from a previous marriage, the one thing that's guaranteed to the children in those marriage is that they will have only one dad I should say only two dads are only two mothers one or the other will be denied to those children. A father really can't relate. I don't think to his daughter in the way that the mother can a mother can't teach her son how to become a man and this is not slept slamming people that are forced into a one parent family situation, you know, something like that. It's just that right from the start. We give the so-called blessing to same-sex marriage we have now doomed those children to be without either a mother or a dad and I think that's wrong. We have Alan from Watertown on the line. Good afternoon, Alan welcome to this Main Street broadcast. Hey, thanks for taking my call. I just like to add something to it. I probably would argue the same things that most people are 4 and you know allowing same-sex marriages, but I just like to add something would be that for a long time in this country women couldn't vote. There was a debate and then when we got to vote for a long time blacks couldn't marry White's and then there's a debate and over time eventually. We're allowed to marry white and now we're debating homosexuality or you know homosexual being able to read each other and others debate and there's an eventuality homosexual people will be allowed to marry each other and I just rather be on the side that's going to be the eventual winner. Thank you for your comment. Let's go to another caller. We have Kate from Minneapolis on the line. Good afternoon, Kate. Welcome to Main Street. You hear me? Yes, I can. Okay. I'm on a cell phone. So it wasn't nothing that I'm thinking about is I'm a single person and I don't think we need to worry about bringing in the Next Generation when overpopulation is such a problem. And that's one of the arguments that one of the person made who's in favor of not debates that's cup. Is that how to bring in the Next Generation why I almost feel like the rights should go to single people. One of the one of the caller's ask the question. Why shouldn't he give right more right to same-sex couples, you know the doctor give Each other I pay more taxes. I need two and one let's address your question Kate because you're cutting in and out, but I think it boils down to you're saying you're single and why shouldn't single people have the benefits of married people. So you're kind of taking that argument and stretching it out a little bit Robert. What do you think about that? Marriage does give you rights. It gives you benefits and it gives you privileges but the flip side to that is that marriage also entails responsibilities, it entails responsibilities between the two adults who have sworn lifelong Devotion to each other and it entails responsibilities to their community and to the nation at large one of the best reasons that I think that the government should encourage same-sex marriages is because it's good overall for society government is in the business or should be in the business for making Society productive and for making its citizens productive and marriage is a way to stabilize individuals to stabilize communities and I can see how that would lead to anything other than a good end. So while it is Eight rights issue and a benefits issue. It is more a responsibility issue. Some people make it sound as if same-sex couples want to get married so that they can get all these lovely benefits these legal benefits and Privileges and what nobody is really arguing is that also they have a responsibility Society is also saying to them if we confer these these rights and privileges on you we expect something back from you in the same way that Society expects something back from a straight couple. So it is both rights and responsibilities in that way. It is in society's best interest and an in the government's best interest to promote this I know we have a comment from somebody who sent this in online Brendan Minneapolis. And this is something that you might want to address. She asked does real reasoning take place at the Great American think off from what I've heard so far on this show. She says all I hear is people trading opinions. What's the difference between thinking reasoning and trading opinions boy? That's a tough one because I think people always have opinions. I think the essence of being able to to have a discourse on it. When you say reason is that you reason from those opinions as opinions that you have are based on what you know, what the facts that you that you know the world as you know it and and we would be if we weren't thinking people we wouldn't have opinions. So that's not a bad place to start. So then the reason part of it is taking those opinions hearing other people's opinions and then weighing and considering the Underlying facts that go to make up those and then seeing how yours or the other person's and the case of you believe. Your opinion is really correct and seeing how you can perhaps undermine the other person's argument by pointing out the unreasonableness of some fact that they're using or or building up your own. Bye. Bye even borrowings other your opposition's arguments and in the end what you have is a discourse, which becomes to society more important than the fact that you have differences. The fact that you can communicate is what makes us uniquely. Successful or could be uniquely successful as human beings because clearly we could have differences of opinions and then just decide that we're this is the way I am this is the way you are and so I'm not going to change and you're not going to change. So we're not going to have anything to do with each other. Well, then we would also be giving up the opportunity of sharing goods and services and and having some fun together or whatever that takes. So so reasoning is sort of part of the whole process. I don't know if I'm asking her answering her question or just venting my own opinions, but we appreciate them lie to let me ask you this question on Saturday night is the audience going to vote for the best debater the most convincing argument or just what their personal opinion if that's an excellent question because we will admonish the audience to vote for the person that they believe does the best job presenting their argument now, obviously they couldn't present their argument well They didn't have an impassioned belief in it. I mean they have to believe very strongly in it, but will that happen? I don't know. I mean we are all you know, we're all emotions and reason at the same time. So at sometimes very easy to have an intellectual appreciation of something to say you have it. It just doesn't sit right with me and I'm going to vote with my gut and that's not bad but in the purpose of for purpose of debate, we hope that people will will will really listen to the way the person argues their point and how well they are Hewitt and will vote for them for that reason because what we're voting for is not the person who agrees with me. What were voting for is America's greatest thinker. Or in sent this question in from St. Paul given the fact that we have a separation between church and state in this country. Why is God even part of the debate religion should be irrelevant Sonia do you agree? Impart. Yeah, I mean we are set our government has determined that church and state is separate. It's hard for people to always separate the religion from their beliefs both politically and personally, but at the same time to make a decision based purely on religion would be difficult because we have so many different religions even with in our own country. So, I guess you can't really base all your decisions on that, but I don't think you can necessarily leave religion completely out John from Andover is on the line. Good afternoon John welcome to Main Street. Thanks. I just wanted to comment going back to the gentleman that spoke earlier. I came into the discussion kind of late and I heard him mention something about paying taxes to support, you know, the gay marriage thing the benefits that they would receive. Why should we do that? I think he said well either lesbian pay taxes to support the or help support the benefits that he or straight people receive as married couples. And you know, I don't think there's anything wrong with gays and lesbians being married. I mean if they want to You enter of the relationship or I lost my train of thought here. Wrong with it is what I'm trying to say. It's not going to have any effect on unstraight people. It's not going you know life is going to go on for straight people and they'll be able to to stay married. Just the way they are allowing gays and lesbians to get married is not going to hurt them. Like I have any effect on their relationships their marriages. It's just going to allow gays and lesbians to be married. There's nothing wrong with that. That's like for your thoughts John. I'm wondering thinkers don't always make Great Debaters. In fact, the winner of last year's contest was a professed public speaking phobic. Would you say that you're all comfortable speaking in front of a crowd that going to be painless painless on Saturday doesn't make you nervous Sonia to think about speaking on Saturday definitely, but you're willing to do it. Bring on the challenge you're here. So you've got to be willing lineup alarm. I want to thank you for being with us today. We'd also like to thank our four contestants in this year's Great American think off Jim shots. Christie Hicks Sonia Hathaway and Robert Larose. Good luck to all of you met the greatest thinker win this special Main Street broadcast is a production of Minnesota Public Radio. Our Engineers are Cliff Bentley in New York Mills and Rick hubs in ski in st. Paul. This show is produced by Sarah Mayer. Our site producer is Bob Rihanna, the executive producer is Kate Smith. We'd also like to thank line of Millar and her staff for making this broadcast from the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center possible. We invite you to visit our website the main street team consists of twelve reporters. I'm Rachael Ray be Minnesota public radio's Main Street radio coverage is supported by blandin Foundation based in Grand Rapids dedicated to strengthening rural Minnesota communities through its leadership development programs grants and public policy initiatives. Waiting for a file to download from the internet. There's not much you can do to speed it up. 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