By Jenny White
Olivet students participated in petitioning on a nation-wide political issue this past week as they signed their names to a petition or a “counter-petition.”
The first to come to campus was a movement that is part of a statewide effort by the Illinois Defense of Marriage Initiative to put an advisory referendum on the Nov. 6 general election ballot, defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The amendment would be as follows: “To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose,” according to Defend Marriage Illinois.
Student Trevor Alcorn created the push for the petition at Olivet.
“The idea for this petition at Olivet was my own; it did not come from the administration. I ran the table along with along with my neighbor Jason Kirstein, girlfriend Katelyn Glidewell, brother Cameron Alcorn, and other friends,” Alcorn said.
The petitioning at Olivet was created for similar reasons as the statewide effort.
“The reasons why I have helped with the petition drive are two-fold: to uphold and strengthen marriage as God has designed it and how it has always been, and to strengthen and encourage others to defend traditional marriage,” Alcorn said.
Some students support the petition, because of their personal opinions on the matter or because they believe it is a good opportunity for students to share their views.
“Since we are at a religious University, this petition is a good way to further express our opinions,” freshman Erin Stephens said.
Others shared the same sentiment.
“The petition is a good idea; it’s a good way to stand up for our beliefs,” senior Christopher Pickering said.
Other students do not support the petition, however.
“[In] acknowledging universal solidarity in our spiritual state of need, I’d find it far more inspiring if students participated in an in-breaking kingdom of love where a common table is set for we who are all marginalized and all sinners,” senior Brock Johnson said.
Because of this differing opinion, a group of students led by Johnson organized a Facebook event and created their own “Love Petition,” which was set up at a table in Ludwig during the Defense of Marriage petitioning. Some students signed the Love Petition in agreement with its statement:
”In my humanity, I confess that I am consistently faced with confusion, sinfulness, and struggles with my self-identity and what it means to lead a beautiful and holy life … In accordance, I hereby declare that with an eye towards my own need, I will express the very same grace and love and understanding I so often need for myself. Thus, I believe it would be beneficial to the solidarity of our campus if room were made to discuss this issue amidst the student body in an attitude of humility and love.”
The leaders of the Love Petition wanted to create an open and loving environment on campus, where homosexuality can be discussed without judgment.
“We are about showing love to students that are forgotten and marginalized. We don‘t have a position on whether or not gays are right or wrong, but we do think that the church should be listening to what gay Christians and those who love them have to share,” junior Annie Atwater said.
During the time period surrounding both petitions, posters were placed around campus to raise awareness about the Defense of Marriage petition. Some of the posters were torn down by students, who said they were “misleading.”
The leaders of the petitioning at Olivet did not have a comment on the issue with the posters. They did defend their stance against opposing viewpoints in claiming that the initiative is not meant to single out homosexual marriage, but to speak out against all types of marriage that are not defined by “one man and one woman.” “This petition is to strengthen the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman, and does not focus on just homosexual unions. Polygamy and other types of unions would also not be recognized as marriages,” Alcorn said.
The homepage of the Illinois Defense of Marriage Initiative website gives 10 reasons addressing the question, “What is wrong with same-sex marriage?”
The reasons are as follows:
- It is not marriage.
- It violates natural law.
- It always denies a child either a father or a mother.
- It validates and promotes the homosexual lifestyle.
- It turns a moral wrong into a civil right.
- It does not create a family but a naturally sterile union.
- It defeats the state’s purpose of benefiting marriage.
- It imposes its acceptance on all society.
- It is the cutting edge of the sexual revolution.
- It offends God.
Students in support of these ideals were encouraged to sign the Defense of Marriage Petition, but had to be registered voters in Illinois.
Both petitions have stirred up conversation among students. The effects they will have on Olivet’s campus will be seen in the upcoming weeks.