Marriage fuels debate, accusations on Georgetown campus

WASHINGTON — The definition of the word “marriage” has led to a war of words on the campus of Georgetown University, with allegations a student group that supports marriage between a man and a woman is a hate group.

The heated debate began at the beginning of the school year, with a letter to the editor of a school newspaper, The Hoya, entitled “Confessions of a College Virgin,” by 20-year-old junior student Amelia Irvine.

Irvine is the president of a student organization called Love Saxa, which identifies itself as a group “promoting healthy relationships and sexual integrity.”

In the Sept. 6 posting, Irvine described her decision — with her boyfriend — to choose abstinence before marriage, and attempted to dispel myths about young people who advocate for waiting to have sex.

“Those of us not having sex are not plodding miserably through life,” Irvine wrote. “In fact, we are jamming to The Killers’ ‘Mr. Brightside’ and Macklemore’s ‘Downtown,’ just like the rest of Georgetown.”

In addition to explaining her thoughts on premarital sex, Irvine opined on same-sex marriage.

“Love Saxa’s definition of marriage does not include same-sex couples, as we believe that marriage is a conjugal union on every level — emotional, spiritual, physical and mental — directed toward caring for biological children. To us, marriage is much more than commitment of love between two consenting adults,” she wrote.

Irvine’s opinion piece led to an editorial from The Hoya, the oldest and largest student newspaper at the Jesuit university, entitled “Defund Intolerance.”

“Love Saxa’s advocacy of denying individuals’ rights on the basis of their sexual orientations is inherently intolerant,” read the editorial. “The club is antithetical to what a university club should be, and it should be ineligible for any university benefits.”

As a club officially recognized by the university’s Student Activities Commission, Love Saxa receives $250 in funding.

“The Student Organization Standards clearly state that student groups that ‘foster hatred or intolerance’ are not eligible to receive the benefits of university recognition,” the editorial concluded. “If SAC seeks to uphold these standards, it must vote to defund Love Saxa.”

The Student Activities Commission is expected to hold a hearing on the complaint in the next few days.

Irvine said in a statement that the complaint against Love Saxa and Hoya’s editorial staff are “hateful and intolerant of those who hold traditional views of marriage.” She said that Love Saxa’s views are “in line with those of the Catholic Church.”

On its Facebook page, Love Saxa wrote: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the threats of violence against anyone involved with the complaint filed against our organization. We are not interested in promoting hatred of any kind, nor are we interested in the support of individuals who use threats and harassment.”

In a statement, Georgetown University said it is not currently taking a position regarding whether funding should continue.

“As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, Georgetown listens deeply and discerningly to the plurality of voices that exist among our students, faculty, and staff and is committed to the care of each member of our community. Through the student-governed Student Activities Commission (SAC), the University supports more than 200 co-curricular student organizations with access to benefits, including Love Saxa.

“We strongly support a climate that continues to provide students with new and deeper contexts for engaging with our Catholic tradition and identity. Love Saxa is one of many groups operating on campus with positions that affirm the teachings of the Catholic Church. We also support a climate that is welcoming to all students and supporting of our LGBTQ communities.

“As the students on the Student Activities Commission review the complaint regarding Saxa formally submitted by individual students on Oct. 22, we encourage all students to follow our community commitment to open dialogue and mutual respect.”

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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