St. Thomas students are organizing a protest in response to the Reclaiming the Culture of Marriage and Life Spring Forum, to be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday in Brady Educational Center.
Wednesday, the students presented the dean of students office with a notice of intent to demonstrate including an outline their plans to rally peacefully outside the forum. Some of the rally organizers then met with the dean’s office to discuss the event.
“We haven’t gotten a ‘no,’ so we are going to go with it,” junior Nick Kor said. “It’s going to be a peaceful demonstration to celebrate love and respect.”
Kor said students will meet at 8 a.m. Saturday outside BEC.
The Reclaiming the Culture of Marriage and Life Spring forum is part of an archdiocesan initiative “aimed at helping the faithful ‘Understand the Cultural and Legal Battle’ over the restoration of marriage and the respect for human life,” according to the Archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life website.
Maggie Gallagher and the Rev. Salvatore Cordileone will speak at the forum. Gallagher is president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and president of the National Organization for Marriage. Salvatore, bishop of Oakland, Calif., is one of the creators of Proposition 8: The California Marriage Protection Act stating that only heterosexual marriages would be recognized as valid in the state of California. Salvatore also signed the Manhattan Declaration, a document defending traditional marriage.
Gallagher has spoken at St. Thomas several times. She participated in a Law Journal symposium on the federal marriage amendment in 2004 and spoke in 2001 on “Character, Courtship and Marriage.” Gallagher also wrote an article published in the St. Thomas Law Journal that addressed how gay marriage weakens marriage as a social institution.
The students who plan to protest are frustrated not only by the forum’s speakers but also by what they consider a lack of equality exercised by the administration in choosing speakers.
“When I first heard about the speakers coming to St. Thomas, I was put off by the hateful rhetoric they’re known to use,” sophomore Jess Novak said. “In the context of the St. Thomas community, it just really struck me–the inequality in the policies that are used to decide what events and speakers are able to be held on campus and just how they’re kind of enforced so discriminately.”
Junior Erin Hagen said she hopes Saturday’s rally will demonstrate the group’s frustrations about St. Thomas’ speaker and event policies and further develop a conversation with the administration.
“We’re trying to be very transparent,” junior Erin Hagen said. “[We're] trying to work with the administration as much as possible because we, as students, have a real investment in this school and want to see it grow and really badly want to have this dialogue. We think it can make our campus a better place for future students.”
Kelly Trussell, Gina Dolski and Katie Broadwell contributed to this report.
Rebecca Omastiak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.