Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Center are focusing on the facts behind Amendment One, and they want the University to do the same.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney met with his LGBTQ advisory committee Thursday to “reissue the charge” and talk about the group’s purpose, but conversation quickly turned to discussion of Amendment One.
Amendment One to the North Carolina constitution proposes defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Christopher Putney, chairman of the committee, emphasized the need to educate the community about the real meaning of the amendment and suggested the University issue a statement clarifying the facts.
“As the flagship University of the state, it is incumbent upon us to educate the campus about the effects that can come from it,” Putney said.
Putney said the University cannot take a side on the issue, but educating the UNC community about it should remain a priority.
Carney said he supports the idea but would have to consult with provosts at other universities in the Triangle area and Chancellor Holden Thorp before that would be possible.
Terri Phoenix, director of the LGBTQ Center, said if the amendment passes, the University will lose staff members to other states where laws like Amendment One aren’t in place.
“Treating all staff and students equitably will not be possible if this passes,” Phoenix said. “The campus will lose faculty, and I’m one of them.”
Although the University does have a non-discrimination statement, neither Phoenix nor Putney is satisfied.
Both said discrimination still takes place because they cannot claim their spouses on their health benefits.
“I’ve been at this University for 17 years, and for the first time I feel less than welcome,” Putney said. “We don’t provide benefits equitably, and it’s deplorable.”
Assistant Dean of Students Dean Blackburn said that although the non-discrimination statement is a goal, there is still room for improvement.
Putney said the group will remain focused.
“As long as I’m the chairman of this committee, we will be focused on advising the administration on how to make the campus better,” Putney said.
Gender neutral housing was a final topic of discussion in the meeting.
Kevin Claybren, a student leader of the proposal, received $1,000 for a postcard campaign that would include student testimonials. He said his goal is to educate the administration about proposal details so they will be more informed if there is another vote.
“Chancellor Thorp’s decision wasn’t an end-all, be-all, so we’re trying to inform the administration,” Claybren said.
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