Texas A&M Student Senate Considers GLBT Center Funding Opt-Out Bill

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Chris WooleyChris Woolsey, a Texas A&M Student Senator endorsed by the Pro-Life Aggies and College Republicans, has filed a “GLBT Funding Opt-Out Bill” aimed at curtailing the funding stream of the Aggie's GLBT Resource Center by allowing students to opt-out of paying student fees based upon religious grounds.

The center, which actually pre-dates UT's Gender & Sexuality Center, has come under attack previously by the Student Senate which supported a 2011 amendment of Rep. Wayne Christian's which would have required schools with LGBT resource centers to spend an equal amount on a center dedicated to “family and traditional values”.

Approximately $2 of each students' fees goes towards funding the GLBT Resource Center.

From the Battalion

“The belief that this bill is oppressing the GLBT community or is a way to legalize discrimination is a ploy to distract from the real meaning of the bill, which is to protect the religious liberties of students,” Woolsey said.

“I would argue that even if it took 43 cents off my tuition statement, if I were the a religiously objecting student, then I would rather stand for my principles, stand for what I believe, then have to be forced to pay,” Woolsey said. “I think there are many students who would like to follow that same line of thinking.”

The Dallas Voice explains that even if passed, such a measure couldn't realistically be enforced.

Camden Breeding, an LGBT activist at Texas A&M who is former president of GLBT Aggies, said he expects the TAMU Student Senate will also pass this year's bill targeting the GLBT Center when it's voted on in two weeks. However, Breeding said the bill is illegal, because it goes against a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said public universities may subsidize campus groups with mandatory student fees without violating First Amendment rights.

“Basically it's a way to institutionalize discrimination using the guise of religion,” Breeding said of the bill. “They couldn't put it into effect because the Supreme Court's already ruled on it. It's a hurtful bill. It's another bill that's targeting the LGBT community here.”

Breeding said he and other activists are putting together a lobbying team and will speak before the Student Senate's vote. He said he expects the student body president to veto the bill, but believes the Senate has the two-thirds majority needed to overturn the veto.

It's a shame to think that the A&M Student Senate consists of a veto-proof majority on a measure such as this given the prevailing winds. Students will have an opportunity to share their opinions with their elected senators on Wednesday, April 3, at 7:00pm, during an open forum in Koldus 144. A copy of the bill is included below the fold.  S.B. 65-70 the GLBT Funding Opt-Out Bill

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