I have one question for Florida A&M University. What is happening with the vote to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals in the discrimination protection clause of the university constitution?
I expected that I would not know much about the goings on of FAMU after spending four months on a different continent. Yet I am sure the passing of this measure by the administrators would have popped up on my radar.
Before I left, the decision to include this measure in the university constitution was placed on hold amidst an ongoing and detailed investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Student senators expressed enthusiastic interest in passing the measure through the board of trustees, but it seems things have yet to change.
The rights of members in the LGBT community have been furthered in the past five years, and the momentum continues. The New York Times reported Feb. 5 that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced that the Pentagon is going to be allowing some benefits to be extended to same-sex couples. It will take the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act to roll out the full benefits, which include medical, dental and housing allowances. But this is an important step in the LGBT rights movement.
What this means is the government is recognizing same-sex partnerships, something I thought was still further in the horizon. I applaud the government for taking this step and will be eagerly watching as the Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on the constitutionality of DOMA. If repealed, there will be no legal basis for denying the rest of the benefits to same-sex couples that serve our country at home and abroad.
This is not the only step being taken in the LGBT rights movement. The Boy Scouts of America has been discussing abolishing a ban excluding openly gay men, women and boys from taking part in the organization. The vote to repeal the measure, originally set for this month, was pushed back until May.
According to a survey conducted by Quinnipiac University, out of 1,772 registered voters taking part in the survey, 55 percent voted to end the ban on gay members in the Boy Scouts. Women are more in favor than men in repealing the ban.
On an international scale, the first vote for same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom showed the Houses of Parliament in overwhelming favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. France is also in the process of voting for or against same-sex marriage.
With strides for same-sex marriage being made worldwide, I cannot help but wonder what is happening with the LGBT community on FAMU’s campus. I think students, faculty and staff who will benefit from such measuring passing deserve the right to know what is happening with their protection as human beings.