Add new comment

Trent Gilliss's picture

Hi Ed. Of course we could find someone in vocal opposition to the same-sex marriage, but this was not our only primary criteria.

We wanted to broaden the scope of the debate -- to not just make it about same-sex marriage but about the institution of marriage itself: what it means to heterosexual and homosexual men and women, why it's such a lightning rod of an issue and why it's worth fighting for, and how we can discuss one of the underpinning institutions of U.S. society in the context of the larger debate taking place currently. Also, for each Civil Conversations Project event, we found one person we wanted to speak with. Then we asked each of them to suggest a person from the opposing side of an issue that they'd like to have a deeper conversation with. In this case, Jonathan Rauch suggested David Blankenhorn, a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage for many years who is concerned about the erosion of the institution of marriage.

In essence, we editorially opted for a more subtle conversation that's ensuing among the two men rather than pitting two people to just duke it out. There are plenty of forums to hear these types of necessary discussions. To some degree, we focused on the theme of our project, "civil conversations," and the way they can be had by two people at odds with one another.