UNCASG equal opportunity clause debate hits news


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The Carolinian, UNCG’s independent student newspaper, published an article on the proposal to add sexual orientation and gender to the UNC Association of Student Governments equal opportunity clause in its April 18, 2006 edition.

Although the article is lacking in some details not available to them by press time, it is overall a good article.

A couple of mistakes (no biggies though) were in it and I have corrected them or added clarifications (in red) within the reprint of the article below (Oh well… its a given: The media is never perfect and neither am I). The post referred to within the article is: UNCG Student Senate rescinds vote on LGBT inclusive legislation.

Here is the article:

The fight for homosexual equality continues at UNCG
Sarah Benedek
Posted: 4/18/06 Section: Campus News

According to MattHillNC.com, a website/blog maintained by UNCG Sophomore Matt Hill Comer, a piece of legislation presented to UNCG’s SGA called for the UNC Association of Student Governments to “do two things: (1) Amend its equal opportunity clause to include sexual orientation and gender; and (2) Lobby the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to ‘include sexual orientation and gender into the non-discrimination and anti-harassment statements and policies of all the sixteen UNC campuses.'”

Comer looked at the ASG Constitution and noticed that while the Constitution did have an equal opportunity clause, the clause did not include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender. As the Business Manager of UNCG PRIDE! and a vocal activist in the fight for equality, Comer felt that this was a major oversight and he felt that something should be done to rectify the situation.

He submitted a resolution to the ASG which went to and was passed by the committee. [The resolution was originally submitted to the UNCG Student Government Association and passed by the Legislative Committee] Once the resolution reached the Senate, the document was changed to include other ways in which people can be discriminated against including appearance. The Committee rescinded their vote, and the resolution was tabled until the next meeting. [The Senate was actually the body which rescinded its original approval; at the next meeting the Student Senate passed the resolution after the amendment was added]

President’s Secretary of Business Affairs, Amethyst Royal, did not feel that the wording of the resolution was inadequate; she felt that the Constitution should not discriminate within the confines of those discriminated against. Comer did not feel that discriminating against someone due to their socio-economic status or even hair color was on the same playing field as discriminating against them due to their sexual orientation or gender. On his blog, Comer, before accepting the amendment, stated,

“If Secretary Royal is able to show me a time when someone has said, ‘Oh. . .you’re poor? Ok. . .leave our organization,’ then I would definitely be in favor of adding it. However, it is a known fact that once someone’s sexual orientation is known, the chances of discrimination and harassment rise dramatically.”

Comer said,

“I was originally against the amendment because I thought that it took away from the original intent of the resolution which was to add sexual orientation and gender to the ASG Constitution. I finally accepted the amendment realizing the amendment wouldn’t pass if I didn’t.”

The proposal to change the equal opportunity clause was heard over a conference call for the [UNC Association of Student Governments] ad hoc committee for Constitutional revision on April 9, although at the time of printing, the outcome was unknown.

Junior Recreation and Parks Management major Corey Hearne feels that the bringing up of the issue “needed to happen, but it led to controversies in [UNCG’s] SGA.” She is pleased that SGA members were willing to not only stand against anti-discriminatory practices in regards to sex and gender [Should read “sexual orientation and gender”], but for the right for everyone, no matter how diverse or different they may be, to be treated fairly and equally.

The amendment, as it stands, calls for no discrimination against people due to their “race, color, creed, religion, political beliefs, political affiliation, sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status (SES), physical appearance, height, weight, age, national origin, ethnic origin, life experiences, place of residence, or disability.” [Since press time, the current proposal currently at the UNC Association of Student Governments includes only sexual orientation and gender, via a motion made not by me but by a voting member of the ad-hoc committee on Constitutional revisions]

Comer adds,

“This Constitutional change would lead the way in making the University of North Carolina school system, and eventually the entire state, a safe, welcoming, and equal place for all its citizens.”

Let me take the time to say that before anyone starts attacking me for the quote in which I state I am opposed to adding terms such as SES, hair color, height, weight, etc. that you take the time to read the post from which it came. The original post is available here (along with the most recent post on the subject available here) and I think I make good case for why discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender are more threatening and harmful than any supposed discrimination based on the other characteristics included in the amendment

Although I am sure discrimination based on hair color, height, weight, etc. does occur in our country, I am also sure that discrimination of that nature occurs against a very, very slim minority of people. In comparison, consider the VERY REAL and PRESENT legislative and institutionalized discriminatory proposals to make LGBT people second-class citizens under the Constitution of the State of North Carolina, the United States Constitution and countless governing documents in states and commonwealths across this country.

Here is a brief excerpt from the post from which I am quoted in the article:

After much debate I stood up to voice my opposition to the rescinding of the vote stating that I thought as though the UNCG Student Senate would be smarter than the many larger legislative bodies in our nation, including the state and federal legislatures, in protecting LGBT persons.

It should come as no surprise that my comment deeply offended many members of the Student Senate. I must say, however, that I was deeply offended when the historical and VERY PRESENT AND REAL discrimination against LGBT persons was compared to discrimination against someone due to their hair color or height.

With a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution which would ban marriage for LGBT persons and write discrimination into our nation’s most sacred legal document pending in the United States Senate, legislative bodies everywhere (from student governments all the way up to Congress) should always take the opportunity to protect and stand up for LGBT persons whenever possible.

I could definitely empathize with a brunette if he or she were ever discriminated against because his or her city decided to make brunettes second-class citizens, but the fact remains that the chances of anti-brunette bias are, without a doubt, slim to none. On the flip side, anti-LGBT prejudice and bias is very real and it is happening NOW:

  • 19 states have passed anti-LGBT marriage amendments (source)
  • 43 states and the federal government have passed “Defense of Marriage” acts or statutes (source)
  • At least five states (including PA, IN, IA, MA, VA) have pending marriage amendments.

Another reason why enumerated categories, especially sexual orienation and gender, should not be taken out and replaced with a generic “No discrimination on any basis shall be tolerated” statement is based on our State’s current climate as it relates to LGBT persons. Everyday I run into people or hear about people (whether that be on the street, online, or in the paper) who do not believe discrimination against gays is discrimination. In many people’s minds discriminating against gays and withholding protection is something that becomes a biblical “mandate”. Some believe that discrimination and harassment (saying to another’s face “Homosexuality is a sin” or “You need to change for God”) is in fact speaking the “truth of God” or “showing the light” to a sinner. Personal religious belief is fine, but when it comes into the public and affects my life as an American (second-class) citizen by being put into public policy, the line has been crossed. My basic point is that people are ignorant and our leaders must stand up to protect those who need it the most, even if the majority may feel differently.

But… before anyone attacks, I just hope you will take the time to read the full, original post, along with the most recent post on the subject.

The proposal to add sexual orientation and gender to the UNCASG Constitution’s equal opportunity clause will be heard this Saturday at the General Assembly meeting of the UNCASG. We will be meeting at Eastern Carolina University. Just a heads up though: It is very likely that this proposal will not pass. For this I am very, very worried. Some of the arguments used against it are along these lines:

  • “We don’t have a problem with it now… so why add it?”
  • “It should go in a policy statement. It does not need to go into the equal opportunity clause.”
  • “We don’t need to recognize this type of discrimination because UNC System policy, state law and national law does not yet recognize it.”

To me, these arguments are ridiculous. UNCASG must stand up for what is right, but I have a feeling that it is going to be an uphill battle at the state level, even though a similar proposal would probably pass at each, individual UNC campus.

The part that scares me the most is that one of the voting members of the ad-hoc committee at UNCASG wanted to contact UNC Counsel. Knowing the way this state works in regard to LGBT people I have a feeling as to what Counsel would say: It would either be something along the lines of “It isn’t necessary” or just flat-out “No.”


Comments
10 Responses to “UNCASG equal opportunity clause debate hits news”
  1. K says:

    I still think you shouldn’t let it get to you. It takes *alot* of energy to educate the ignorant, and has to be done so slowly, sometimes students just should let them go for now. After all, they’re happy where they are, and it’s so tiring.

  2. Ryan says:

    Regardless of the content of the article, I’m getting quite sick of these lazy Carolinian writers quoting blogs. I don’t think ANY blog has the credibility to have NEWS stories based on it.

    You and Anthony get along… tell him if his writers want to do a story on you, they should pick up the phone and call everyone involved. Did Sarah attempt to contact Amethyst about the issue? They wonder why only 25% of people think their news coverage is objective.

  3. Matt says:

    Ryan, I understand your sentiment about blogs and news, although I don’t necessarily agree with it.

    Yes, Sarah did talk, face to face, with Amythest about the resolution. I do believe that Sarah probably could have talked to more people about the issue, but she did talk to the key people involved, that being me and Amythest (because she was the one who originally brought up the questions of adding other categories). I wish Sarah had taken more time to talk to people from ASG and I tried to get her to get in touch with Bradley Ballou, the SGA President at UNCW. That is really the only shortcoming (besides those small mistakes, which are commonplace) I had a problem with.

  4. Sarah says:

    Jeez. i’d like to invite Ryan to write a few news articles and he can see exactly how “lazy” one can be when writing a story.

    The story wsn’t BASED on a blog. i got INFORMATION about the subject off of Matt’s blog, since i know that he’s on top of things regarding the politics at and around UNCG. i wouldn’t have gone to Joe Schmo’s blog and written opinions as fact. Does the fact that i actually TALKED to the writer of the blog post not count for anything? He could have easily corrected anything i said about it.

    i’d also like to invite Ryan to write a news story about which he has absolutely no information and nothing to go on.

    Oh, and what does being objective have to do with anything? i didn’t, as far as i can tell, put a slant on the story. i didn’t talk to other people, for one, because i was up against a deadline and also because i thought i had everything i needed to know, as i talked to Matt for a good while.

    If Ryan has such a problem with stories and the way reporting is done, maybe he should write a letter to the editor instead of complaining about it on a blog.

    . . .which he doesn’t think is a valid source of communication anyway.

  5. Ryan says:

    Thanks for your comment, Sarah, you embody all the qualities that make the current crop of Carolinian news writers so wonderful.

    On a more productive note, I consider all blogs to be written by Joe Schmos, regardless of how well known they are. They are not, in my opinion, valid news sources. Had you written the article exactly as it is, except without mentioning Matt’s blog, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. You can’t trust a medium that is only controlled by one person, that’s not news gathering.

    I spoke to Amethyst a little while ago, and she claimed your factfinding in talking to her outside the EUC was cursory at best. Beyond that, as a Secretary, she didn’t have the ability to make any motions regarding this piece of legislation. I didn’t see any quotes in your article from the Senators who had a great enough interest in this to attempt to change it.

    Because of that, your piece is slanted, whether you choose to admit it or not. Simply by virtue of the fact that you only had one source beyond Matt, there was no way all sides of the issue could have possibly been presented.

    On a more personal note, I don’t write letters to the editor, I call them. I prefer to deal directly with the people I have problems with, and Anthony is the biggest one of those at this point. We have spoken about the supposed Code of Ethics that Carolinian staff operate under, and he assured me that the standards would be more closely enforced, but thus far, I haven’t seen that happen.

    Additionally, as far as this being an issue I have “absolutely no information” about, I was still Matt’s pro-tem when this happened, and was one of the most vocal opponents to the legislation. Perhaps if you’d been to a few Senate meetings and done some actual reporting, you would know that.

  6. Sarah says:

    Sarcasm. Cute.

    And i never said you had no information about it. i said that i personally had no information about it when i started the story.

  7. Matt says:

    OK… must we fight about this on my blog? I’m all for discussion and debate on the issues… but if ya’ll want to fight each other then meet up for a mudslinging contest in the EUC Commons or the Atrium, OK?

  8. Sarah says:

    Sorry, Matt.

    It’s been. . .confronted?

    No more fighting on your blog. To be fair, though, we weren’t exactly slinging mud here. . .

    🙂

  9. Matt says:

    I meant the mudslinging more literally… I want to see you all duke it out with big clumps of mud and everything… I’ll video tape it too and put it on SpartanTV

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  1. […] Among the many items on the UNCASG General Assembly’s agenda was the approval of Constitutional revisions. In a past post (here), I wrote about a resolution passed by the UNCG Student Senate and Government which was sent to UNCASG. The resolution was presented on Saturday and I made a motion to amend the UNCASG Constitutional Equal Opportunity Clause by adding gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and socioeconomic status. […]



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