Law Students

Gay Marriage Controversy Reaches UM Law School
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Equal rights protest.There seems to be a fracas in the making at the University of Michigan Law School, ignited by the controversy over California’s Proposition 8.

Proposition 8 was a California ballot proposition that changed the state Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman, and eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry. The proposition did not affect domestic partnerships in California. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints publicly supported the proposition, along with other religious organizations.

It seems that an advertisement [PDF] recently appeared in the New York Times that was signed by one of the UM Law School’s professors, Douglas Laycock. It read, in part:


The violence and intimidation being directed against the LDS or “Mormon” church, and other religious organizations – and even against individual believers – simply because they supported Proposition 8 is an outrage that must stop. …

Regrettably, some public voices have even sought to excuse the threats and disruptions simply as “demonstrations” that got out of hand. Perhaps that’s true in some cases. Far too many, however, have never been demonstrations in the first place, but more nearly mobs, seeking not to persuade but to intimidate.

In fact, various media outlets have documented civil rights demonstrations against the LDS Church and others, and civil rights groups attempts to “out” Prop. 8 supporters. But even the group behind the ad can’t identify a single documented case of violence, short of anonymous petty vandalism.

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The UMLS Outlaws LGBT Students & Friends Association response:

Outlaws and the Law School want to use this occasion to stress that Michigan Law School is an institution that is welcoming of LGBTQA students and that the Law School values the diversity that our community helps provide.

And from Sarah C. Zearfoss, Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions:

Bottom-line, if you are concerned, based on Professor Laycock’s signing of the letter in the New York Times, that the University of Michigan Law School is a place where a prospective LGBTQ law student wouldn’t feel welcome or would feel under siege, then I think your concerns are misplaced. We have an excellent and very active Outlaws student group, and a faculty and administration that are committed to maintaining LGBTQ diversity at this Law School.

The fact is, Proposition 8 was hateful, and opposition to gay marriage is bigotry, no matter the basis for your beliefs. Californians, and all Americans, have the inalienable right to protection from enforced religious law. If homophobes were being victimized with violence, that would absolutely be wrong, although some blame would have to rest with the “victims,” whose “victimizers” would never have even known of their existence if the “victims” had not interfered with their private lives. But that scenario is not playing out. At all.

Having your political contributions publicized is not harassment, violence or intimidation. Protests at public locations, even angry protests, are not harassment, violence or intimidation.

Activists who wish to use the government to enforce their religious beliefs on others should instead do some soul-searching, and ask why they seek to overthrow the religious and personal liberties this nation was founded upon.

– Erik David Even


  1. LegalCardinal

    March 1, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Mr. Even,

    I respect your opinion. However, I strongly disagree with your assumptions. You falsely assume that Prop 8 supporters are bigoted and hateful. Those who voted for Prop 8 did not do so because they hated Gays or Lesbians. Such comments are irresponsible and ignorant.

    I invite you to pause for a moment and consider the hypocricy of your comments. You admonish a (stereotyped) group of people, based upon your own prejudices.

    Do you know why the majority of Californians (Arizonans and Floridans) supported Prop 8 (or similar Props)? Their support was not motivated by hate. I wonder, however, whether your comments and prejudices are motivated by anger and hate.


  2. Erik Even

    March 1, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    I notice that you do not suggest a reason, apart from bigotry and hate, for persons to support Prop. 8.

    Whatever justification you suggest for support of a hateful action, it is still hateful. You can claim a Biblical justification, or an ideological one, or a political one. When people supported slavery, or anti-miscegenation laws, or the criminalization of homosexual behavior, or the Nuremberg laws, they did just that. Yet these stances were still hateful and bigoted.

    You cannot say you want to deprive a class of people of their civil liberties, but you don’t “hate” them. You cannot oppress someone and claim not to hate them. You cannot say you “hate the sin but love the sinner,” when the “sin” is entirely fictional.

    I need no advice to examine my own beliefs — I do so all the time. It is only the religious who think their own ideas are perfect and beyond criticism. They are always incorrect in this assumption.

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