.- The University of Notre Dameâs Student Activities Office is facing criticism for allowing a group of five students to use student activities funds to travel to a national homosexual political demonstration that advocated for same-sex âmarriageâ and related issues.
The Office approved Notre Dameâs Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) request to use PSA funding to travel to Washington, D.C. for the National Equality March on the weekend of Oct. 9-11, the Notre Dame Observer reports.
The March, organized by the group Equality Across America, says on its website that the march was for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people âequal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states.â In the organizersâ view, this âone single demandâ included freedom from harassment and discrimination, the right to serve freely in the military, the right to marry, and âthe right to equitable healthcare, and the right to donate blood.â
Organizers rejected a âpiecemeal strategy,â saying they sought âone federal solution to full equality.â
For the event the Notre Dame students marched two miles across the District of Columbia and then joined homosexual activists for a rally at Capitol Hill.
PSA President, sophomore Jackie Emmanuel, told the Observer that the group initially had about 20 students signed up for the event but most could not participate due to midterms.
"The fact that we were university-approved was surprising but it was a wonderful surprise," Emmanuel remarked. "The university hasn't always been entirely receptive in the past."
She said she has felt âa slight tone of homophobiaâ from some areas on campus, but she expressed her belief that the student body is âgenerally supportive.â
Colleen King, another student participant in the event, described herself as a âstraight allyâ and said attendees had âa real sense of frustrationâ with government inaction on the activistsâ issues. She also reported there was âa sense of celebration.â
She told the Observer that the group hung out in the homosexual neighborhood of the city and stayed with friends to minimize costs.
King also said she believes homosexual rights are a social justice issue that should be addressed on campus.
âI think it's hard to be gay at Notre Dame," she continued. "I wish there was more of a gay rights movement on campus."
Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society, was among the critics of the Student Activities Officeâs decision to fund the studentsâ travel.
âFaithful Catholics will ask whether Notre Dame has learned its lesson from the scandalous commencement ceremony last spring,â he commented in a press release. âWhat university seeking to reassure families of its Catholic identity would pay for students to attack the family and oppose Catholic teachings on marriage?â
CNA contacted a University of Notre Dame spokesman on Friday but did not receive a response by publication time.