Judy Romea, President, Stanford Anscombe Society
Stanford marriage conference protested by LGBT students
March 26th, 2014
By Valerie Schmalz
Archdiocese urges Catholics to attend campus student event on marriage, family and media
A Stanford University student group’s conference on marriage and chastity has lost university funding and is expected to face protests, but the Stanford Anscombe Society “Communicating Values: Marriage, Family and the Media” conference will go forward, organizers said.
The Archdiocese of San Francisco’s director of marriage and family life is encouraging local Catholics to attend the event April 5.
“I hope to attend, and I would encourage attendance by all thoughtful Catholics interested in marriage and family, and how they intersect with society,” said Ed Hopfner, archdiocesan director of marriage and family life. “This conference is an outstanding opportunity to see how natural law supports and explains the teachings of the church.”
In an email to Catholic San Francisco, senior Judy Romea, president of the Stanford Anscombe Society, said the society’s primary goal “is to promote rational and, more importantly, respectful discussion on the topics of marriage and family. Such discourse is vital at a university which prides itself on freedom of thought and intellectual diversity. We have a duty to voice our beliefs, and this voice should no longer be silenced.”
However, some of the speakers for the conference have drawn opposition from some on campus.
After initially allocating $600 toward the Communicating Values conference, the Graduate Student Council rescinded its grant by a 10-2 vote at a March 5 meeting. The following day the undergraduate student council rejected an Anscombe Society request for $5,000 toward conference costs.
The main objection to the conference speakers came from GradQ, the homosexual graduate student organization, according to the Stanford Daily and minutes of the Graduate Student Council meeting.
“A lot of students who are queer come to Stanford because it’s one of the most LGBT-friendly places in the world,” said Brianne Huntsman, a Stanford junior, according to the Stanford Daily and minutes of the March 5 Graduate Student Council meeting. “Stanford is supposed to be a safe space for us.”
“This is an event that hurts the Stanford community, to express a belief that, for some reason this event is not discriminatory, is completely off-base,” said Ben Holston, chair of the undergraduate Senate, according to the graduate student council meeting minutes.
“This event as it stands, given the speakers, and given that they have said the event is supposed to ‘promote one man one woman’ which promotes stripping away rights of people in this room, is unacceptable on the Stanford campus,” Holston said, according to the March 5 minutes.
The Stanford University administration, after initially saying it would require the Anscombe Society to pay for the $5,600 cost of 10 security guards, revised its position and will now handle security costs.
“The goal is to support free speech, not inhibit it, by providing a safe environment for individuals to express their views,” said Stanford senior director of strategic communications Brad Hayward in an email to Catholic San Francisco.
Among the speakers scheduled are California State University-Northridge assistant professor of English Robert Oscar Lopez, who wrote “The Colorful Conservative: American Conversations with the Ancients from Wheatley to Whitman”; and the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, co-author of “What is Marriage? Man & Woman: A Defense.” Kellie Fiedorek, an attorney with pro-marriage Alliance Defending Freedom, will be speaking at a Friday pre-conference reception.
The Stanford Anscombe Society is part of a network of 25 similar student organizations on campuses including Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia that make up the Love and Fidelity Network.
While many of the Anscombe Society members are Catholic, the organization is without religious or political affiliation, said Romea, who was one of two freshmen who founded the group in 2011. In the About section of its Facebook page, the Stanford Anscombe Society states: “We hold that the family is the key unit of a stable society, and we define the family as one man and one woman bound together by marriage, along with any children that they might have. SAS defines marriage as a union, until death, between one man and one woman.”
The Stanford Anscombe Society’s first annual conference “Communicating Values: Marriage, Family & the Media” is 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. April 5 at the Oberndorf Event Center, Stanford Graduate School of Business. Business attire. For more information: www.stanfordanscombe.org/.
From March 28, 2014 issue of Catholic San Francisco.