By Sheila Headspeth
On Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. Hood College hosted a same sex marriage equality panel in Whitaker Campus Commons featuring advocates Reverend Canon Angela F. Shepard and Dan Furmansky.
Shepard was raised in the Episcopal Church and her ordained ministry has addressed social justice issues like LGBT people, antiracism, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, etc. She spoke in regards to her support of same sex marriage. She spoke about a Maryland referendum, entitled Question 6 or the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which was filed to challenge the illegality of same sex marriage.
Shepard explained that this act will make it so that religious leaders will not have to marry same sex couples and that same sex couples will have the same rights and protections as straight couples. She believes that marriage is the same whether it is between a gay/lesbian or straight couple.
“As we begin to see more of these marriages, the stormy cloud [of intolerance] will dissipate,” she said.
Furmansky is a social justice leader and has worked for 15 years addressing human rights. He said her became involved in activism because he wanted to, “fight for those who have no voice.”
Both speakers had advice for those who still may have doubt or fear of coming out to their families. “Do what you can…recognize that people are on a journey. Let them know you’re the same person” said Furmanshy.
Shepard advised that those in doubt/fear of coming out, “find a place to call home so that you’re not alone,” and wants them to know that things get better.
Both speakers believe that there is still more work to be done if the referendum passes on Nov. 6. Shepard said building a more accepting society still needs to be done and we all need to work to, “soften the heart of the opposed” by building relationships with all types of people no matter their sexual orientation. Furmansky said that more education about the laws surrounding gay marriage in other states still needs to be provided.
“You can’t force people to change their mind,” said Shepard, “over time the fear will be washed away.”
This event was sponsored by the Career Center and the Office of Student Learning, Office of the Dean of the Chapel, TEA (Tolerance, Education, Acceptance), The Hood College Democrats and Hood Amnesty International.