Candlelight vigil precedes NYCF lecture

On Monday, Rev. Jason McGuire, the executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, gave a presentation at the request of Cornerstone Campus Ministries.

A group of students that opposes the stated views of NYCF gathered before the lecture to engage in a peaceful protest of McGuire's message.

Lisa Kress, president of CCM, opened the event by welcoming those in attendance and reminding the audience that Geneseo's guidelines for deliberative dialogues would be in effect for the duration of the evening.

McGuire spoke about "the journey that God led him on from [Ingleside Christian Church] to Albany." Before becoming a lobbyist, McGuire served as pastor of the church for 11 years.

After speaking for about 30 minutes on his work as a lobbyist, McGuire opened the floor up to a question-and-answer session. In light of mounting anticipation of a bill that could legalize same-sex marriage in New York State, several students asked about gay marriage, which is opposed by NYCF. That bill was originally scheduled to be brought to the Senate floor on Tuesday, but was pushed back a week by Gov. David Paterson.

McGuire said he believes that marriage is "ordained between a man and a woman" and that his position can be supported "spiritually and scripturally."

"It is wrong to intentionally create a family structure lacking either a mother or father figure," and gay marriage runs contrary to "what is good for society as a whole," he said.

Many students who asked questions represented organizations including Pride Alliance, Democracy Matters and the Secular Student Association.

Several audience members referenced recent research claiming that children raised by gay parents are not psychologically harmed. Another attendee brought up the NYCF's opposition of two pieces of legislation - the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and the Dignity For All Students Act. The student said that each of these bills would "protect the sanctity of human life," an ideal that McGuire had said NYCF seeks to promote.

"[Those students] have research, but they are a little misled and confused," said Cory Ackerman, who attended the presentation.

Kress said that she was glad that attendees could leave having been exposed to a perspective different than their own, and that "it didn't matter if [attendees] believed the same things that [CCM] believes. These sorts of issues are important and need to be discussed respectfully."

McGuire's speech was preceded by a candlelight vigil in front of Newton Hall in anticipation of the then-scheduled gay marriage bill vote.

The vigil, titled "Lighting the Way to Equality," was organized by Marriage Equality New York and arranged for Geneseo by the Price Alliance.

"I'm here to send a message that all sorts of discrimination based on sexual preference and gender expression won't be tolerated on the Geneseo campus," said sophomore Marie-Jo Nassar.

Sophomore Anders Korn said he attended the vigil to "show that Geneseo is a friendly campus."

"I know that what [McGuire] believes is not true," Korn added.

According to its Web site, NYCF "exists to influence legislation and legislators for the Lord Jesus Christ." McGuire said the group seeks to bring "the Christian worldview to the table" and focuses its lobbying efforts on issues of religion and morality.