Professor says 'I don't' to marriage
November 30, 2010 10:17 PM
Professor Christopher Carrington isn't afraid to raise a little controversy.
From AIDS awareness to sexual positions, his class covers it. No topic is off limits, not even his take on gay marriage.
The openly gay human sexuality professor is passionate about fighting society's homophobic sentiments, but he doesn't believe in same-sex marriage.
"Marriage as a legal concept is problematic from my point of view. My main concern has to do with inequality between people who are married and those who are not," Carrington said. "For example, hospital visitation. The right to visit someone when they're sick, each person should have the right to determine who would see them. It should never be based on if you are married or not."
Carrington's views on same-sex marriage haven't always been well received by his students. This semester, after sharing his perspective with his class, he received more than 50 emails from students calling him calling him a "communist" and "traitor" to his own community.
"I was just in shock because I assume that if you're part of a community, then you're for that. I thought he would be for gay marriage just because he's gay," said Alina Thomas, a 23-year-old criminal justice major who is currently taking Carrington's human sexuality class. "But when he explained it in more detail, I had more respect for him."
Although Carrington has been in a relationship with his partner for 22 years, he said past experiences have made him oppose marriage as a social institution.
In his early twenties, Carrington worked with HIV and AIDS patients at Colorado General Hospital where he served as a chaplain for two years. During that time, he organized memorial services and provided spiritual support to patients, staff and family members.
Carrington said frequent contact with dying patients led him to the conclusion that marriage disadvantaged the gay and lesbian community.
"In the hospital setting, you would have a gay man at the end of his life and his intimate friends who'd been there for the last 20 years. Then came some relatives, the next of kin, who were suddenly empowered to make all the heath care decisions, make all the decisions about his belongings, make the decisions about what will happen with his body," Carrington said. "All of those decisions were ripped out of hands of people who should've been making them."
He knew that he wanted to change people's perspective on marriage, but was unable to create the impact he hoped for in his years at the hospital.
"In that same period in 1989, I also lost my first partner to HIV so I decided that I wanted a different life course where I can have more impact on people's lives," he said.
Carrington enrolled in graduate school at the University of Colorado at Boulder where he pursued a degree in sociology. He knew he wanted to be a teacher.
He began his career at SF State teaching sociology. When a position opened up in the department of human sexuality in 2002, Carrington's background in human sexuality, the focus of his master's thesis, made him an ideal candidate for the job.
"He's really educated and knows what's going on," said Andrew Cesarz, a 24-year-old graduate student and one of Carrington's teaching assistants this semester. "He's passionate and knows the history of the material that he teaches really well."
Carrington said he still sees himself teaching in five years and that he is driven to make a difference in his students' lives. He sees that as the most rewarding part of his job.
"I'll be teaching this course I hope for quite a long time cause I love doing it and I think I'm pretty good at it," Carrington said. "I can't say it for sure but I know I'll be teaching."
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