BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Texas A&M student body president John Claybrook has vetoed a student government measure that would have allowed students to opt out of funding the campus's queer resource centre, or other university services, if they objected on religious grounds.
The student senate passed the bill by a vote of 35 to 28 on April 3.
According to The Eagle of Bryan-College Station, Claybrook wrote that "the damage must stop today," in a letter indicating that he intended to veto the measure.
"Texas A&M students represent our core value of respect exceptionally and I'm very proud of the family at this university. Now, more than ever, is the time to show great resolve and come together, treating each other like the family that we are," he said in the letter quoted by The Eagle.
“Even without the wording that specified particular groups that would be affected in the final version of this bill, the sentiment towards the bill has not changed and has caused great harm to our reputation as a student body and to the students feeling disenfranchised by this bill,” Claybrook says in his statement.
The title of the A&M bill was altered from “GLBT Funding Opt Out
Bill” to the “The Religious Funding Exemption Bill,” with specific
references to the GLBT Resource Center removed. Still, the measure's
opponents, who packed the emotionally charged senate meeting before the
Wednesday vote, argued that the change did not alter the bill’s
"discriminatory, anti-gay intent."
Meanwhile, in a post about a now-withdrawn state budget amendment that would have reportedly targeted queer resource centres on university campuses, LGBT Youth Allies says the amendment's language is "more sneaky." The amendment was spearheaded by Republican Bill Zedler of Arlington.
"Rather than reference LGBT centers or homosexuality specifically, the proposal would have banned public colleges and universities from using any public funds or facilities to 'support, promote, or encourage any behavior that would lead to high risk behavior for AIDS, HIV, Hepatitis B, or any sexually transmitted disease,'” the post states.
"One problem is the widespread stereotype that homosexual conduct is always and necessarily 'high risk.' If anybody with enforcement power held this view, an LGBT student center would be in trouble," it further states.
For more analysis of the Zedler amendment, check out the post by LGBT Youth Allies.
Landing image: GLBT Aggies