‘Same-sex marriage will break down the country’: A delightful evening with Rick Santorum

The epitome of problematic

On November 30th, former Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum spoke at the Statler Auditorium. Needless to say, this sparked much controversy and backlash on our campus.

You could literally feel the tension in the air while waiting in line and sitting in the auditorium for the event. A group of protesters wearing rainbow bandanas symbolizing their support for the LGBTQ+ community, rallied across the street from the Statler, holding signs with anti-hate messages written on them, yelling: “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Rick Santorum, go away.” In response to this, people in line in the event were yelling: “Everybody has a right to speak,” seemingly defending Santorum’s right to be speaking at Cornell.

Once inside the venue, the tension only began to rise, and then turned into confrontation and even more protest.

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Protesting Santorum

While Olivia Corn, President of the Cornell Republicans, was introducing Santorum, reading the audience his life history and accomplishments as a politician, she was interrupted several times by anti-Santorum audience members. Protesters in the audience members were screaming things like: “Shame”, “Santorum is a fascist” and “Quit.” Needless to say, Olivia Corn, as well as other representatives of the Cornell Republicans had to continuously ask the audience that they respect the event and leave all comments to the end. Like that was going to ever happen.

Then, Santorum entered the auditorium. The audience had such mixed reactions. Some were ecstatic, happy to see their version of a “true American hero and family man.” Others looked at him in utter disgust, and continued to call him a “fascist” and urged him to quit his job. It was at that moment, that the divided audience full of Cornell students and faculty mirrored the divided American people’s reaction to Donald Trump’s winning of the presidency just a few weeks back.

Santorum’s speech and question and answer portion of his time at Cornell proved to be problematic. Everything that came out of his mouth people either praised, or criticized and expressed their disdain for his beliefs due a lot to his own hypocrisy.

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He kept expressing his belief in the separation of church and state throughout his speech, but when asked about his anti-LGBTQ+ rights and anti-same-sex marriage views, he used his strength in Catholicism to defend them. When asked by an audience member how he would react if one of his grandchildren was gay and denied healthcare and jobs because of his or her sexual orientation, he went on a tangent about how his faith teaches him to love everyone. He then proceeded with: “I would try to steer them back.” The audience was in complete shock. Everyone was looking around at one another with a what did this man just say? look on their faces.

Another moment: “The breakdown of heterosexual marriage is the end of our country.” Nice.

Later on, Santorum went on a ramble about the Constitution and how people forget what it means. Santorum talked about Thomas Jefferson and how the rest of the Founding Fathers believed that “every man is created equal” and that “everyone has rights and civil liberties.” I guess Rick Santorum forgot that the Founding Fathers had slaves, and women did not have to right to vote or participate in governmental affairs. But all men were created equal though right?

One thing that people from both sides, liberal and conservative, agreed with and thanked Rick Santorum for was his firm stance in his beliefs, and hoping those beliefs could make America a better for place for all. But after that, there was small appreciation and thanks for his presence, some people were reminded of his contradictory remarks. He kept preaching and preaching to everyone about“Loving thy neighbor as thyself,” and listening to people’s concerns, but in the same breath dismissed racism as less of a problem than what it is in our country, and saying same-sex marriage is unhealthy is the raising of children and the reason America is going down the drain. This left audience members with the question, “So, which is it Rick?”

Overall, I think this sums up how some audience members felt versus others: Santorum in name, Santorum in nature.

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