Loyola University Chicago students are petitioning their college to allow same-gender marriages in light of Illinois’ new marriage equality law. A recent editorial in the student newspaper raised the issue, following up on a recent controversy when a lesbian student was refused access to campus for her wedding.
Christine Irvine hoped to have her wedding at Loyola, but administrators at the Jesuit-run institution rejected this request on that grounds they only allow marriage ceremonies recognized by the state of Illinois. Irvine began a Change.org petition, which has gained nearly 2,900 signatures. The petition states, in part:
“Because of our sexual orientation, because we are gay, we are banned from celebrating one of the most meaningful days of our lives on Loyola’s campus…
“Loyola claims to embrace social justice and attempts to be a ‘home for all our students – embracing all races, sexes, gender identities, religions, ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic classes, sexual orientations, and abilities.’
“We call on Loyola University Chicago to live up to these values and create a home for all, regardless of sexual orientation, by ending the discriminatory policy banning same sex ceremonies on campus.”
USA Today reported that though no official policy is in place, a Loyola spokesperson commented, before marriage equality became law in the state, that there were guidelines, and campus facilities could be rented for social events, if not the wedding ceremony. Now that Illinois recognizes same-gender marriages, the spokesperson also said Loyola would develop a policy for on-campus weddings.
This changing reality caused the editorial board of student newspaper, Loyola Phoenix, to call on the administration to continue current policies, which would now allow same-sex couples. The editors write:
“The PHOENIX Editorial Board would like to use this opportunity to encourage the university to uphold its current policy and permit all ceremonies recognized by the state to occur in its venues, with the exception of Madonna della Strada Chapel…
“While we recognize that Loyola has the right to change its policy in light of the recent change in Illinois law, we believe that the current policy should remain in effect as it is written in order to maintain Loyola’s Jesuit values of inclusion and social justice…
“In choosing to stand by its current policy, Loyola ensures that it will remain an accepting space for all students, staff and community members, such as Irvine, and one that promotes equality and compassion in accordance with our collective virtue of social justice. Loyola can maintain space for its traditional Catholic beliefs, as well as its progressive Jesuit values.”
The outcome of both Irvine’s complaint and any developments in Loyola’s wedding policy are unclear, but students and alumni of the University are encouraged to make their LGBT-affirming voices heard to administrators.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry