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By Jane Inglese
August 2, 2012 (La Mesa) –An evangelical church led by a prominent conservative pastor may seem an unlikely place for a forum on same-sex marriage featuring prominent voices on both sides of the controversial issue.  But on Sunday, July 29, Skyline Church in La Mesa featured “A Conversation on the Definition of Marriage” Sunday, July 29, moderated by Skyline’s Senior Pastor Jim Garlow. 
The panel was composed of John Corvino, Ph.D., Chair of the Philosophy Department at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan; Gene Robinson, Bishop ofthe Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire; Rob Gagnon, Ph.D., New Testament Professor and Author; and Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., Founding President of The Ruth Institute.
The auditorium was filled almost to capacity with Skyline Church members as well as many guests from other venues and from the community at large. The audience honored Pastor Garlow’s request to show respect for all the members of the panel – no booing or comments, even reserving applause for the initial introduction of the panel and then at the very end.
Bishop Robinson’s argument was that homosexuals do not want to change the definition of marriage, they just want to participate in it.  He acknowledged that various Bible passages are not supportive of homosexuality, but said that he believes the Bible was written by people over the course of about a thousand years and not dictated by God. 
John Corvino’s argument was that same-sex marriage would actually be good for society because marriage is good for society. He has been in a relationship with his partner for ten years, although they are not married because they live in Michigan, a state that has forbidden same-sex marriage.
Robert Gagnon made his argument based on various passages from the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments.  He was a vocal supporter of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California in 2008. 
Jennifer Morse argued that same-sex marriage would change marriage for everyone, and that it would require changes to birth certificate protocols and otherwise increase government intrusion into the lives of citizens.

The members of the panel were respectful and friendly with each other. Although the tone of the conversation was mostly serious, there were moments of lightheartedness and humor, building if not agreement, at least a deeper understanding between people with heartfelt views on all sides of the marriage equality debate.  

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