Most schools argue for legalization of same-sex marriage
If the speeches in yesterday’s Attorney General’s Cup were any indication, future CNMI leaders would approve the legalization of same-sex marriage on the grounds of equality, fairness, and love.
Six contestants spoke in favor of legalization of same-sex marriage. Two argued against.
Marianas High School junior Lee Ann Jastillana won first place, Mt. Carmel School senior Maria Fe Andrea Lazaro won second, and Katrina Punzalan of Saipan Southern High School, another senior, was third.
The 31st Annual AG Cup asked this specific question: “Should the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands legalize same-sex marriages? Why or why not?
When eventual winner Jastilliana took the podium, she held up her right hand.
“Five,” she said. “It took five shots to kill Harvey Milk.”
“Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.”
That began the winning speech arguing in favor of same-sex marriage as it is a human rights issues “absolutely.”
Jastilliana said there were some 1,373 rights and protections given to straight married couples that same-sex couples have never been afforded. These included benefits in social security, tax, family coverage, and hospital visitation rights.
To her last point, she pointed to a 2000 case where a man was not allowed to enter the hospital room where his “partner died alone.”
“This is real,” she said. “And this is unjust.”
She called out U.S. lawmaker Rick Santorum who reportedly said he would rather see a child raised with a father in prison than same-sex parents.
Pointing to studies by major universities, she said there were “no intellectual and social differences” between children raised by straight or gay parents.
Then she took on religion, saying that from a religious view the answer to religious marriage is an “unresounding no.”
But despite this, “the CNMI is not a theocracy,” she said. This was not an issue of religion, she said. It was a legal one, citing U.S. courts that upheld one’s “inherent right to love equally.”
As she ended her speech, she strung out a timeline for those in the audience to remember.
It has been 152 years since American slaves were made free, 95 years since women got their right to vote, and 52 years since Martin Luther King Jr. described his “dream.”
She indicated that the CNMI could join this movement in history.
Now, she said, the CNMI can “reset our aim.”
“Bang, bang, bang…” to inequality, she said.
After 12 consecutive years of one school bagging the Attorney General’s Cup, it took a first-timer like Jastillana to keep them from getting a baker’s dozen.
Jastillana is a junior and the representative of Marianas High School at the 31st iteration of the speech competition held at the House of Justice yesterday.
“This topic, it’s something [that] I’m actually really passionate about because I do believe that I have like sisters who are lesbian, sisters who are gay and I really do think that they deserve the chance to be married,” Jastillana said.
Her dramatic introduction to her speech, which literally started with a bang, was probably where she got the attention of the judges and floored them with the rest of what she had to say.
“[Mr. Bobby Cruz] gave me the idea, I think, two days ago and I just loved it and I thought it would really work and I just thank him for that,” she said.
Jastillana is the daughter of Maricar Lustre who was very proud of her daughter.
“I’m really so happy,” Lustre said. “She really worked hard for it and I know it’s all worth the hard work and everything so I’m very thankful and grateful that she got it.”
After she graduates in 2016, Jastillana hopes to attend college in the United States and is interested in a career in journalism.
Mount Carmel High School, after 12 years of winning, ended up garnering second place this year.
Its representative, now senior and last year’s champion, Lazaro, was emotional after the awarding.
“She had great courage to say what she said. So [I’m] very, very proud of her,” coach Galvin Deleon Guerrero said after giving a consoling hug to Lazaro.
Third placer Punzalan, a senior at SSHS, is planning to pursue a major in political science in the U.S.