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Panel on the 'M-word'

Published May 17, 2004; Category: EVENTS

Controversial figure to join discussion of gay marriage

The mayor of a small town in New York State who is facing criminal prosecution for performing same-sex marriages will be among the participants in a May 21 panel discussion at Dartmouth about the same-sex marriage debate. Titled "The 'M' Word: The Future of Same-Sex Marriage," the event will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in 105 Dartmouth Hall. It is free and open to the public.

Jason West
Jason West

Panelists will consider the political, cultural and legal implications of the fight for same-sex marriage, according to Alexis Jetter, Adjunct Professor in Women's and Gender Studies and moderator for the event. The panel is scheduled to roughly coincide with May 17, the date on which same-sex couples will be allowed to obtain marriage licenses in Massachusetts for the first time, she said.

"This will be a historic date. We thought it would be a good time to bring together some key players in the debate and ask, 'What happens now nationally? What happens regionally? What are their strategies and visions? What are the challenges they face?'"

Panel members will include Jason West, the Green Party mayor of New Paltz, N.Y., who is charged with 19 criminal counts for marrying 25 same-sex couples. Along with San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, West has been at the center of the national debate on this issue.

Dartmouth alumnus Keith Boykin '87, founder of the National Black Justice Coalition, which has lobbied black churches to oppose the proposed federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, will also be on the panel. He is author of One More River to Cross: Black and Gay in America. The lawyer who argued the case for same-sex marriage before the Vermont State Supreme Court, Dartmouth alumna Beth Robinson '86, will participate as well. Her work resulted in the nation's first civil union law. Completing the panel will be David Chambers, University of Michigan Law professor emeritus and an expert on the legal implications of same-sex marriage, and Dartmouth music Professor Steve Swayne, a minister and civil rights/gay rights activist.

The event is co-sponsored by the Rockefeller/McSpadden Public Issues Forum, Sigma Delta sorority, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, the Bildner Endowment, the Ethics Institute, the Student Life Office and the Gay/Lesbian Education and Resource Network of the Upper Valley.

By TAMARA STEINERT

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Last Updated: 12/17/08