Notre Dame Open to Officially Recognizing Alumni Group Supporting Same-Sex Marriage
December 4, 2015 | By Adam Cassandra | Cardinal Newman Society
Recent comments by the executive director of the Notre Dame University Alumni Association indicate that the University hasn’t ruled out officially recognizing the group Gay and Lesbian Alumni of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s (GALA) as part of their alumni network even though the group publicly supports same-sex marriage in opposition to Church teaching.
“We appreciate GALA’s work supporting our LGBTQ alumni through their organization — and our students with their scholarship efforts,” Dolly Duffy, Alumni Association executive director and associate vice president of university relations, reported told the campus newspaper The Observer. “We continue to engage with GALA to learn about their goals. As GALA is a relatively new organization, we have not made any decisions about how we can support them long-term.”
A review of GALA’s website suggests the group’s goals include the continued support and promotion of same-sex marriage and behavior until these activities are fully embraced by the University.
The Cardinal Newman Society asked Duffy to confirm if the University was seriously considering a formal relationship with GALA despite the group’s public support for same-sex marriage. The Newman Society also asked Duffy and Bill Gangluff, marketing program director of the Alumni Association, if the University would require GALA to abandon its support of same-sex marriage and other positions that contradict Catholic Church teachings before establishing a formal relationship with the group. No response was received by the time of publication.
A document on the GALA website dated November 2013 titled “GALA ND/SMC Official Recognition with the Notre Dame Alumni Association (NDAA)” makes repeated references to same-sex marriage. The document examines issues for GALA in applying for and potentially receiving official recognition from the University.
The section of the document titled “Changing Times” states that “society in general has changed its attitude toward LGBT individuals” and notes that the “atmosphere on [Notre Dame’s] campus has changed as well,” citing the University’s recognition of the GLBTQ student group Prism-ND.
Other issues recognized under “Changing Times” include:
– Same sex marriage in 14 states
– Repeal of DADT [The Obama-POTUS effect]
– Repeal of DOMA for states recognizing same sex marriages [The Justice-Kennedy-SCOTUS effect]
– Recent public statements by the Pope [The FrankenPope effect]
A “Q&A” section of the document listing questions GALA members might have about official University recognition proposed the question: “Will this mean that the Notre Dame Magazine will finally recognize my legal same-sex marriage?” GALA leadership answered the question stating, “We hope that once one part of the University recognizes LBGT alumni others in the University will follow suit.”
In June 2015, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, GALA posted on their website approving of the decision: “ND grad and GALA member Greg Bourke and his husband Michael Deleon were lead plaintiff’s in the Kentucky case that was part of the decision. We all thank Greg and Michael for their efforts to help bring about this change.”
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., speaking as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), stated after the Court’s decision, “Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. … It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.”
The archbishop went on to say, “Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.”
In GALA’s “Summer Newsletter” posted on September 14, 2015, GALA Chair Jack Bergen again congratulated those “who can now get married in their home state” following the Supreme Court decision. Bergen also expressed hope that actions taken during the October 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family would open the door to the Church supporting same-sex relationships, with the support of Pope Francis.
“[N]ew since May are several interesting articles in the recent edition of Notre Dame Magazine. … an article entitled Family Counseling … talks about the upcoming general synod taking place in October,” according to Bergen. “The article suggests there may be opportunity to be more supportive of committed same-sex relationships and has strong support from Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich.
“Let’s hope with the Pope’s visit to the US in the fall, that progress can be made for stronger language and direction for same sex relationships, especially now that so many countries have passed marriage rights, including most recently in Ireland by an overwhelming public referendum,” wrote Bergen.
Reportedly “in response to a recognition that the campus climate in regards to LGBTQ issues has improved over the past few years,” GALA began awarding scholarships last year to LGBTQ students attending Notre Dame.
“Last year we gave out two $2,500 scholarships, and we’re looking at potentially raising that to four $2,500 scholarships and/or we may use some of the money to start to fund the endowment for the scholarship,” Bergen told The Observer in November. “Because we see this as a long-term commitment, we see this as not just a one-time thing that we want to do, but we want to continue to do it for quite a while.”
Bergen said that Notre Dame’s official recognition of GALA would be “an important step forward toward supporting [the University’s] LGBT alumni just as it supports many other alums such as seniors, young alumni, female alumnae, etc.”
He added: “I see this as a partnership that would serve to strengthen the ties between a very loyal alumni constituency, and to help the Alumni Association in its mission to more effectively engage all members of the alumni community. … As progress is made with strengthening the relationship between the University and its LGBT alums, I see even greater financial resources being made available to aid those activities of supporting students and LGBT alumni engagement.”