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Orrin Hatch At Canisius

A senator of historical importance will grace the Canisius community with his presence on Monday, March 29. When I say historical, I mean he has been alive 25 years short of a century. Orrin Hatch, who is ironically known as “Mr. Constitution,” is coming to Buffalo to speak on behalf of judicial power in the United States of America.

As a student who aims to become a civil rights attorney, I find it appalling that the Frank G. Raichle Pre-Law Center, an esteemed department at Canisius for the past thirty years, would allow an individual of outspoken bigotry to various minority groups in our great nation to even set foot on our prestigious campus, let alone use the stage at Montante Cultural Center for his soap-box preaching of hate.

The last time I checked, the First Amendment to Constitution allows Americans freedom of religion, speech, press, petition, and assembly. I find it embarrassing that this man’s nickname liks him to one of the most important documents in history. Hatch’s views in regard to the denial of marriage rights to homosexual Americans is a detriment to government and society as a whole. In a 2004 statement regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, Hatch said, “Decoupling procreation from marriage in order to make some people feel more accepted denies the very purpose of marriage itself. And such a radical transformation should not be imposed by judges upon people who would not choose it for themselves.”

Are you kidding me? To make people feel more “accepted”? He failed to mention that same-sex couples are barred access to more than 1,000 federal benefits and responsibilities that are given to their opposite-sex counterparts. Further, in reference to the long history of marriage discrimination in our country, a 1958 Gallup Poll concluded that more than 95 percent of white Americans were against interracial marriage. (In 1958, Hatch was a student at Brigham Young University, which is the largest religious university in America. Surprise, surprise.) In 1967, the Supreme Court of Virginia served as a moral compass and overturned the racist, oppressive, and ignorant miscegenation laws that had obtained for close to 100 years.

Parallels can be drawn to the recent disapproval of gay marriage in the state of California and Proposition Eight, which flat out bans the possibility. In a more recent statement, the conservative Republican Hatch said, “The people of California did not ask for same-sex marriage. It was imposed on them by the California Supreme Court.” To follow Hatch’s logic, the Supreme Court of Virginia “imposed” upon that state’s citizens the right of two people who love each other to marry, regardless of race, and cohabitate.

Those who oppose same-sex marriage often claim to want to protect the foundations and religious traditions of marriage, which they define as the union between a man and woman. Oddly enough, Hatch is a descendant of polygamists and actually defended the practice in a taped interview, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune. I guess three or four is not a crowd for heterosexuals in regard to marriage, but two homosexuals are not able to make their loving relationship official.

Canisius is a place that has enabled me to become the outspoken and educated individual I am, qualities that are broadened by various lecture series on campus—but not by one of this nature. I look forward to the day where I can reflect with my husband and say, “What was wrong with society to think that was even an issue back then?”

I ask my classmates and fellow Western New Yorkers not to attend this event, in order to shield your ears from bigotry, hate, and the denial of human rights.

Jeffrey Hartinger, Buffalo

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