By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The University of Notre Dame is under fire once again for giving financial assistance to five students to participate in the Nov. 11 National Equality March in Washington, DC, which was organized in part to advocate homosexual “marriage.
According to The Observer, a campus newspaper, the school’s Student Activities Office allowed five students to use funds allocated to the Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) to attend the rally.
The rally was sponsored by Equality Across America, an organization which aims to build a national grassroots network asserting homosexual couples’ “right to marry” as well as other demands.
“The fact that we were University-approved was surprising but it was a wonderful surprise,” said Jackie Emmanuel, PSA president. “The University hasn’t always been entirely receptive in the past.”
Emmanuel considers the school’s decision to approve the trip a step forward for Notre Dame. “I feel like there is still a slight tone of homophobia from some areas on campus,” she said. “But I feel like the student body is generally supportive.”
Colleen King, one of the five participants at the event who calls herself a “straight ally,” was also grateful for the surprise move by the university. However, she was disappointed with some of the letters from students that were published in The Observer’s Viewpoint section regarding whether or not the University should update its non-discrimination policy to protect gays.
She was specifically disturbed by an Oct. 7 Letter to the Editor written by Notre Dame sophomore Sean Mullen, who said that rather than adjust the policy, the University should adopt the same “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy as the military.
“If people don’t openly practice homosexuality, then we shouldn’t hold their sexual orientation against them in admissions,” Mullen writes. “But allowing gay students to openly practice homosexuality on the campus of Notre Dame only makes us more secular.”
After calling President Obama’s commencement address last spring a “disgrace,” Mullen adds: “It’s about time for Notre Dame to honor the teachings of the Catholic Church, not contradict them. The University of Notre Dame ought to be the gold standard of Catholicism in higher education. We should not adjust our policies to fit societal norms so that people can feel better about their sin. One thing will be certain, if Notre Dame adjusts the clause to include openly practicing homosexuals, then we will have no right to consider ourselves a Catholic university anymore.”
King was upset by Mullen’s viewpoint. “As a Catholic, it bothers me when people interpret Catholicism in the way that the letter did.”
She said she believes gay rights is a social justice issue and should be addressed on campus. “I think it’s hard to be gay at Notre Dame,” she said. “I wish there was more of a gay rights movement on campus.”
Not everyone agrees that such a movement belongs on a Catholic campus and are questioning why a University already plagued with scandal would fund student attendance at a march for “rights” that the Church considers to be intrinsically immoral.
“Faithful Catholics will ask whether Notre Dame has learned its lesson from the scandalous commencement ceremony last spring,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society. “What university seeking to reassure families of its Catholic identity would pay for students to attack the family and oppose Catholic teachings on marriage?”
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