Segments in this Video

Intro: John Donvan (06:03)


National Constitution Center CEO Jeffrey Rosen contextualizes the debate as constitutional, as opposed to political. Professor Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz introduces terms and concepts likely to come up in the debate.

Equal Protection Debate "Housekeeping" (06:18)

Moderator John Donvan states the motion, explains the debate format, and introduces the panel members for each side.

For the Motion: Sherif Girgis (06:35)

Law student and author Sherif Girgis argues that while same-sex marriage may be a good idea from a policy perspective, the Constitution is silent on the issue. Because the Constitution does not define marriage, we are free to define it as based on love and consent or on procreation.

Against the Motion: Evan Wolfson (06:24)

Founder and president of Freedom to Marry Evan Wolfson argues that this debate isn't really about same sex marriage; it is about the right to marry. He says the Supreme Court has defined marriage as a public commitment to another person that is personally meaningful, includes sexual contact, and is protected under the law.

For the Motion: John Eastman (06:48)

Professor John Eastman argues that the Equal Protection clause applies to people who are similarly situated, and if marriage is about reproduction, same-sex couples are not similarly situated to opposite-sex couples. He says marriage has been historically linked to procreation, and changes to that must be done democratically.

Against the Motion: Kenji Yoshino (06:36)

Professor Kenji Yoshino argues that procreation is as important to same-sex marriages as it is to opposite-sex marriages, as evidenced by the number of gay couples having and raising children. He also criticizes the assertion that legalizing gay marriage will disrupt the institution of marriage.

Creating a New Right (04:23)

Donvan summarizes for and against arguments. Kenji Yoshino (against) argues that marriage equality is not about a new right, but about a new group accessing an existing right. John Eastman (for) argues that same-sex marriage would redefine marriage as being about love instead of procreation, so it is a new right.

Defining Marriage (04:40)

Evan Wolfson (against) argues that the government does not require procreation to be the motivation for marriage, so same-sex marriage is not a redefinition. Sherif Girgis (for) argues that if same-sex couples are going to be established as similarly situated under the law, so too would polygamous couples.

Arbitrary Definition (06:02)

Kenji Yoshino (against) says same-sex marriage may well be decided as a matter of sex discrimination. He asserts that both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples can have monogamy, permanent relationships, children, and sexual relations. Sherif Girgas (for) argues that marriage has historically been between a man and a woman even in cultures without a bias against homosexuality, so there must be something special about that duality. Evan Wolfson (against) argues that past understandings of marriage were so different from modern American marriage that they cannot be used as a real analogy in this debate.

Equal Protection Clause (05:37)

John Eastman (for) argues that adult motivations for marriage have nothing to do with the government's interest in regulating it. We have two views of marriage, he says. Kenji Yoshino (against) argues that the more restrictive view of marriage would exclude not only homosexuals but anyone who wanted to marry for reasons other than procreation.

Supreme Court Rulings (02:00)

Evan Wolfson (against) says he does not believe the Supreme Court's earlier rulings on marriage defined it as between a man and a woman. He argues that marriage is not just about children, for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

QA: Children and Marriage (03:56)

John Eastman (for) argues that there is no empirical evidence marriage has any effect on a child's upbringing, but that there is evidence that the presence of two biological parents does. Kenji Yoshino (against) says that is a good reason to be against non-traditional reproduction, not gay marriage.

QA: Government Benefits (03:53)

John Eastman (for) argues that privileging heterosexual marriage via government benefits results in the greatest number of children being raised in a quality environment. Evan Wolfson (against) asserts that these incentives are not why people get married, so they should not be used as a rationale against same-sex marriage.

QA: Changeability of the Constitution (06:25)

Sherif Girgis (for) says that his opponents have presented no compelling reason why marriage has to be linked to romance. Kenji Yoshino (against) states that the arguments keep sliding into policy areas because the opponents are looking for the lowest level of review. He also asks the other debaters to state whether they are morally opposed to same-sex marriage.

Concluding Statement For: Sherif Girgis (02:40)

Sherif Girgis (for) argues that love and commitment are valuable in any form, but that the state has an interest in promoting marriage between a man and a woman because it is in the best interests of children.

Concluding Statement Against: Kenji Yoshino (02:24)

Kenji Yoshino (against) argues that extending marriage rights to same-sex couples under the Equal Protection clause will end the discrimination against homosexuals that has required their treatment as a protected class.

Concluding Statement For: John Eastman (02:16)

John Eastman (for) argues that same-sex marriage should be decided democratically, not via the courts.

Concluding Statement Against: Evan Wolfson (02:23)

Evan Wolfson (against) argues that same-sex marriage does not take anything away from others' enjoyment of the institution. It gives all Americans an equal freedom.

Time to Vote (03:12)

Donvan instructs the audience to vote, thanks the participants for a civil debate, and discusses upcoming events.

Audience Vote Results (01:01)

Pre-debate - For: 13 - Against: 53 - Don't know: 34 Post-debate - For: 14 - Against: 83 - Undecided: 3

Credits: The Equal Protection Clause Does Not Require States to License Same-Sex Marriages: A Debate (01:13)

Credits: The Equal Protection Clause Does Not Require States to License Same-Sex Marriages: A Debate

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The Equal Protection Clause Does Not Require States to License Same-Sex Marriages: A Debate

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The equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court cited this clause in its decision requiring all states to license same-sex marriages. Was the Court's decision right?

Length: 92 minutes

Item#: BVL110294

ISBN: 978-1-68272-208-4

Copyright date: ©2015

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