CommunityPam's House Blend

Mars Hill students vote down gay-straight alliance club

Yesterday, the Blend featured a post on the NC college that faced funding withdrawal — a hit of $1 million — if it voted to recognize an LGBT group on campus. Today, Mars Hill, not surprisingly, voted it down. It is important to note that the vote was close. From the Asheville Citizen-Times:

Friends hugged and some cried Thursday after students voted by a slim margin not to recognize a support group for gay, lesbian and transgendered students at Mars Hill College.

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, which gives the college $1 million annually, had said it might withdraw funding if the school officially sanctioned the group, called Open Doors.

Jason Miller, president of Open Doors, wiped away a few tears after the vote, but he said he was encouraged by the close results.

“We’ll be back next year,” Miller said. “And hopefully, it will go in our favor.” Forty-two student representatives participated in the closed-ballot vote at a meeting of the Student Government Association Senate. Twenty-one students voted against recognizing the club, 17 voted for it and four abstained. Three student representatives were not present.

I believe the decision rendered reflects the faith position held by most constituents within the Mars Hill College family,” said Mars Hill College President Dan Lunsford.

The club’s narrow defeat surprised few students. They said they expected a close vote. On sidewalks across campus, supporters had written messages in chalk about tolerance and respect. Those opposed had responded with their own chalk messages.

…Junior class Vice President Chelsey Gaddy, who voted to recognize Open Doors, was less optimistic. The club is not just for gay and lesbian students, she said. It’s open to all students who value diverse opinions, and Mars Hill needs diversity, just like any other college campus.

“This just breaks my heart,” Gaddy said in a shaky voice. “To me, this is about civil rights. People are going to be homosexual whether we recognize this club or not. I don’t see why we can’t allow it.”

Thanks to House Blender Ann for the followup.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding