Responding to concerns raised by The Cardinal Newman Society, Loyola Marymount University (LMU) has stopped describing a campus performance on September 7 as a fundraiser for the gay-rights organization that is challenging California’s ban on same-sex “marriage.”
But LMU appears to be pushing forward with the event, featuring a student and faculty reading of the play “8” which promotes gay “marriage.”
The two organizations that were to receive donations are the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact, which together have licensed readings of the play “8” at colleges and other venues nationwide. AFER is fighting in federal court to overturn California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex “marriage,” and the case is now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Broadway Impact is an organization of actors, directors and playwrights to promote same-sex “marriage.”
As of Monday, LMU’s online calendar and the website of its Office of LGBT Student Services promoted the event as a fundraiser for AFER and Broadway Impact. The director of LGBT Student Services, Anthony Garrison-Engbrecht, was identified as the organizer.
The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) on Monday contacted LMU President David Burcham and the University’s public affairs office and notified Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez. CNS requested “clarification whether the University opposes Catholic teaching on marriage, given that this event is sponsored and promoted by substantial entities of the University, both faculty and administrative departments.”
President Burcham declined to respond, and his assistant referred CNS to the public affairs office. Despite repeated calls and promises that LMU Vice President for Communications Kathleen Flanagan would call Thursday, CNS received no return call. Calls to Garrison-Engbrecht also were not answered.
But LMU did change its website announcements (here and here) of the event on Thursday, deleting any reference to a fundraiser, removing the Office of LGBT Student Services as a co-sponsor, and deleting reference to Garrison-Engbrecht—even though it was already apparent that he had a key role in organizing the event. The announcement on the LGBT Student Services website was removed.
Other co-sponsors are still listed, including the Department of Communication Studies, the Department of Theater Arts and Dance, and the LMU Faculty and Staff Gay-Straight Network, which is officially recognized by the University.
By distancing the event from LGBT Student Services, LMU may be trying to characterize it as a faculty-only activity protected under a broad definition of academic freedom, although the event is still promoted by the University and will reportedly involve student performers. The play is not an academic exercise but a biased work that is licensed by gay-rights organizations for advocacy purposes.
The latest announcement states that “LMU students, faculty, staff and alumni from across disciplines, departments and units will be performing” in the pro-gay “marriage” play.
The play’s promoters describe it as follows:
Uncover the truth about marriage for gay and lesbian Americans. “8”—a new play by Academy-award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar)—demystifies the debate around marriage equality by chronicling the landmark trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Learn about the historical context of marriage from expert testimony. See the human cost of discrimination. Uncover the arguments used to justify bans on marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Using the actual court transcripts from the landmark federal trial of California’s Prop. 8 and first-hand interviews, “8” shows both sides of the debate in a moving 90-minute play.
Although the description promises “both sides of the debate,” the websites of AFER and Broadway Impact indicate that the play is designed to promote same-sex “marriage.” Playwright Dustin Lance Black is quoted, “The goal of ‘8’ is to show the world that marriage equality is a basic constitutional right and that those who would deny this basic freedom from loving, committed couples have only vitriol and baseless hyperbole to fall back on.”
It would seem that certain faculty and leaders of Loyola Marymount agree?