Vincentian Push for a LGBT organization at STJ

On Sept. 20 the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” law, which barred gay men and women from openly serving in the military, was repealed. Until this point, it was required that gay lesbian, bisexual or transgender troops had to remain silent about their sexuality.

The law prohibited faithful Americans from serving the country they love so much, and has been proven to cost tax payers millions of dollars. With the repeal of this law we’ve ended one of the dark ages in American history.

Despite this huge change in our social atmosphere we still have a ways to go until full equality is reached. In many states, partners are not allowed to make medical decisions in case that their loved ones became unable to communicate with doctors. In the case of bisexuals, if a man or woman enters into a homosexual relationship with children from a previous marriage, their partner cannot claim custody of the children. These are basic civil rights denied to the LGBT community due to discrimination of who they’ve been since birth.

America is not the only one who has failed in its duties to provide equality for all. St. John’s also has a challenge to face in the fight for equal rights. Last semester, a push was made to recognize a Gay-Straight Alliance on campus, but a request was ultimately denied by the administration.

But if indeed St. John’s wants to uphold its Catholic and Vincentian identity, they should allow a Gay-Straight Alliance to be created on campus. It does not go against any teaching of the Bible and would reaffirm the University’s status as one of the most diverse communities in the country.

In the Bible, Jesus has meals with tax collectors, meets with many lepers, converses with Samaritans, and treats women as equals to men. In all these cases he was seen as someone who went outside the social norm. The Scribes and the Pharisees questioned Jesus about his actions. Jesus responded, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?”(Matthew 15:3) People who continually quote the Bible with verses against gays, are ignoring the greatest commandment of loving each other as God loves us.

The model of our University, St. Vincent DePaul, set an example for us in following in Jesus’ footsteps in welcoming the persecuted into accepting arms.

The University’s Web site talks about St. Vincent as a man who worked for the poor and the disenfranchised. In his time, the poor were looked down upon and seen as lowly people whom most did not want to concern themselves with. St. Vincent worked hard to bridge this social gap and was loved by the poor and respected by the rich for it. As students at a Vincentian University we are called to be “heirs to Vincent’s legacy and stewards of his mission to respect each person; serve those in need; and build with your friends human solidarity.”

Like the lepers of Jesus’ time and the poor that St. Vincent tended to, the LGBT community is a persecuted group that is looked down upon and rejected in many communities. They face bullying at schools and the workplace, and many intolerant families force them to search for foster homes. This has led to such tragic events as the suicides of a Rutgers student last year and, recently, of a 14-year-old boy took his life after being harassed at school. In both cases the victim felt persecuted and alone. Instead of  receiving support and compassion they received hatred and ridicule. It should be the job of a Vincentian student to welcome these people into our community.

In order to truly follow in the footsteps of Jesus and St. Vincent, the University must welcome a Gay-Straight Alliance and make it a part of our community. Like Jesus did, we should converse with the social outcasts and make them an accepted part of society.  This does not require anyone to change their stance on same sex marriage. It only means that human beings will be given equal opportunity to peacefully gather in their own community as a part of our University body.