Hamline's decision to stay neutral on marriage amendment sparks protest
Kellert (left) called on Hanson (right) to make a stand consistent with the school's Discrimination Policy. It went unheeded.
At 11 a.m. today, Hamline students and faculty will gather on the school's Old Main Lawn to protest school administration's decision to stay neutral on the Minnesota marriage amendment.
In a letter addressed to the "Hamline Community" and distributed via email last night, President Linda Hanson engages in some impressive doublespeak -- she writes that "Hamline will not take a position in opposition to or in favor of the amendment," but adds, "The University's position should not be viewed as supportive of the amendment or as a rejection" of the school's history of inclusivity.
Earlier this month, philosophy professor Stephen Kellert wrote a letter to Hanson asking that the school come out against the same sex-marriage ban. He cited the school's Discrimination Policy, which states that the school "does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, religion, age, sexual orientation, or veteran status in its education or employment programs or activities."
Kellert's letter came on the heels of the creation of a Hamline Supports the Freedom to Marry Facebook page that attracted 2,000 members during its first day.
A healthy debate has developed on the Facebook page promoting today's protest. Here's a sampling of some of the responses to Hanson's letter.
From sociology professor Melissa Embser-Herbert:
And here's a couple reactions from students:
More than one alumnus has vowed to stop financially supporting the historically socially liberal school in the wake of President Hanson's neutrality vow.
To read the full text of her letter, click to page two.
Dear Hamline Community,
In recent weeks, a number of you have urged the University to take a stand in opposition to the proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution which would limit marriage in the state to a union of one man and one woman. These activities are all within the spirit and foundational ethos of a university--we think about societal issues, debate them, and then as citizens, act upon our convictions.
Significant and careful consideration of this matter has been given by me, the Board of Trustees and many of you in the community. Such consideration has led to the conclusion that Hamline will not take a position in opposition to or in favor of the amendment.
Those who have urged public opposition by the University have passionately and eloquently cited Hamline's core values and history of inclusivity. The University's position should not be viewed as supportive of the amendment or as a rejection of these values.
Rather, the intent is to allow for civil discourse and civic engagement by all members of our community. As a diverse university made up of students, faculty, staff, alumni, the Methodist church, and our neighbors, each individual and group should have the freedom to express their approval of or opposition to the amendment. It is extremely important that Hamline remain a place where, in the words of John Wesley, "the very act of intellectual inquiry is sacred."
I know that we each individually have a personal view--I certainly do as a citizen and voter. And we will not all agree. But Hamline is best served as a university to allow for intellectual discourse and the unfettered exposition of ideas and opinions in regard to this amendment.
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