Monday, October 25, 2010

GMUSL Ally Day is a Sucess!

Below are my thoughts on George Mason School of Law's first-ever Ally Day, also cross-posted in The Docket.

GALLA would like to extend a special thanks to everyone who participated in Ally Day on Tuesday, October 12th, in support of National Coming Out Day. Ally Day was extremely successful, with nearly 100 members of the GMUSL community wearing "ALLY" t-shirts, including two professors and several members of the administration and staff. Additionally, dozens more members of the GMUSL community participated by wearing stickers and making donations to offset the cost of the event. GALLA would also like to thank the SBA and the Director of Diversity Services for helping to make this event happen. Kate Oakley, President of GALLA, and I were truly moved by the enthusiasm and support we received in planning and executing this event.

Ally Day is very important at GMUSL. For starters, it's a great opportunity to spread awareness about what an ally is--a person who supports and respects LGBTQ equality. Whether this support is motivated by a libertarian, humanist, or religious perspective, allies share a common belief that people should be free to love whomever they choose. Allies, who typically identify as heterosexual, recognize the privileged position they occupy as part of a majority, and take positive action to include and affirm their LGBTQ friends. One 2L commented, “it’s nice to know that, even at a school like George Mason, our libertarian friends have our backs.” Another student shared, "It's important to recognize that Allies do not represent a certain political or religious affiliation. Allies symbolize support and respect among the entire student body of GMUSL. Events like Ally Day communicate this powerful message and provide a united front to the D.C. community and potential future students."

Aside from fostering general awareness, Ally Day is extremely important at GMUSL in particular. Multiple instances have contributed in shaping GMUSL’s reputation as unwelcoming to the LGBTQ community. These are a few that stand out in my mind: 1) one of our deans co-authored an amicus brief defending the constitutionality of federal funding withdrawal from schools that refuse on-campus military recruitment in light of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;[1] 2) VA attorney general and GMUSL alumnus, Ken Cuccinelli, advised that VA universities remove sexual orientation and gender discrimination from anti-discrimination policies;[2] 3) Cuccinelli was shortly thereafter welcomed on our campus to speak—leaving students to organize a protest against his LGBTQ policies outside; 4) the Christian Legal Society hosted Alliance Defense Fund on campus—an organization that describes the the “homosexual agenda” as the “principle threat to your religious freedom;”[3] and 5) the GMUSL website publishes as newsworthy a professor’s writing against marriage equality.[4]

Further, based on my own experience in the classroom, lectures assume heterosexuality with rare exceptions (to professors who mention same-sex issues in class, for example when discussing federal income tax and marriage, I sincerely thank you). Some students feel that professors reveal their anti-equality biases, however politely, in the classroom. The majority of self-identified LGBTQ students I have spoken to at GMUSL feel on the defensive at school. In this kind of atmosphere, it is difficult to know to whom it is safe to come out, and on whom one may count on if feeling sad or uncomfortable.

Considering all of these factors, it was very important for Kate and I that GALLA sponsor an event that would allow the GMUSL community to speak up and support equality. While I don’t seek to take away any person’s right to speak, I believe that expression at GMUSL must be a (respectful) two-way street in order to foster a dynamic and happy student body. Again, thank you to all those who participated!

[1] Brief Amicus Curiae of Law Professors and Law Students in Support of Petitioners at 6, Rumsfeld v. FAIR, 547 U.S. 47 (2006).

[2] Letter from Ken Cuccinelli, Attorney General, VA, to Presidents, Rectors, and Visitors of Virginia’s Public Colleges and Universities (March 4, 2010) (available at

[3] Alliance Defense Fund, The Issues, Marriage & the Family,

[4] GMUSL, Current News, Lund in SF Chronicle: Prop 8 Judge Ruling Puzzling,

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