The debate about Minnesota’s proposed constitutional amendment against marriage equality has erupted on the campus of a small Catholic college in the state.
At St. Scholastica College in Duluth, 192 faculty and staff signed their names to an ad in the student paper declaring that they were not in support of the constitutional amendment. Though the school had originally decided to stay neutral in this debate, the faculty and staff were moved to place the advertisement because last week the Diocese of Duluth held an event on campus which promoted support for the amendment.
The Duluth News Tribune reports:
“Students at the Duluth school took exception to the event and considered it a breach of the college’s preference that no formal campus groups sponsor events on either side of the marriage amendment question — which is asking Minnesotans to define marriage in the constitution as a union of one man and one woman.
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students were especially feeling marginalized after the diocese event, said Gary Boelhower, a professor of theology and religious studies at Scholastica. . . .
“ ‘We want those students to know they are supported,’ Boelhower said.
“ ‘We speak only for our own consciences and do not represent the college or any departments/units within the college,’ the letter read. ‘We recognize that the Catholic Church in Minnesota is taking a clear position in favor of the amendment, while the college itself remains neutral. As educators, we believe we have a responsibility to add our voices to a debate that is often misleading and based on fear.’ ”
“The letter ended with: ‘We are voting “no” to stand in solidarity with all our LGBT brothers and sisters whose fundamental freedoms are presently compromised in our state and country.’ ”
Similar letters were printed by faculty and staff in the student newspapers of two other Minnesota Catholic colleges: St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict.
Chris Dolan, a St. Scholastica alumnus commented about how the school supported him while he was a student there in the 1990s:
“The 2001 graduate is an attorney in Minneapolis who credits the culture at St. Scholastica for helping him in a struggle with his sexuality. He is gay and married his partner in Toronto. They have a 4-year-old child.
“ ‘The St. Scholastica experience was instrumental to me in coming out,’ he said. The sisters at the college helped him in coming to an understanding that ‘God made me who I am.’ ”
“Dolan is on the board of trustees at the college and said the efforts of the ‘Vote No’ campaign and especially the faculty letter ‘sends my family a powerful message.’ “
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry