A referendum on the North Carolina ballot next month to ban gay marriages and civil unions has created an awkward position for colleges that condemn discrimination but can’t take public stances on political issues.
Ten student senates have renounced the measure, as has the Faculty Senate at public Western Carolina University.
Both chambers of the state legislature last year approved putting the measure to a popular vote, and the amendment will be on the May 8 ballot.
College administrations have generally stayed away from the issue, but Duke University issued a statement that skirted the issue but expressed support for gays, and students across the state have mobilized against the measure. Duke offers full spousal benefits for the domestic partners of its employees.
In the statement released by a university spokesman, Duke said it respected the rights of gay employees and students and that offering benefits to their partners gives them a strategic advantage. “We believe recognizing the families of LGBT faculty, employees and students by offering these and other benefits is essential for Duke to recruit, retain and nurture excellence in all our endeavors,” the statement read.
Jen Jones, spokeswoman for a group campaigning for the amendment’s defeat, said college students have been among the most vehement critics of the ballot measure, called Amendment One.
Even statehouse Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican who supports the constitutional ban, seems to see a generational gap. He told North Carolina State University students that he’d expect the amendment to pass this spring and then be repealed within two decades, according to a student newspaper account repeated statewide. Jones said that account, while no doubt frank, betrays a clear divide between the majority of college students and the older voters who support the amendment.
“The sentiment is clear from students,” she said. “ ‘You’re doing this now but we’re going to have to clean up this mess.’ We see this anger and frustration on Amendment One really transfer over to a campus level.”
That’s happening at Appalachian State University,
This article originally appeared on: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/04/02/ten-north-carolina-student-senates-oppose-gay-marriage-ban