Texas A&M Student Body President John L. Claybrook has vetoed an anti-gay bill passed by the Student Senate on Wednesday that would have allowed students to opt out of funding the campus GLBT Resource Center with their activity fees if they have religious objections. The GLBT Aggies group just posted the above image of Claybrook’s veto on Facebook.
The Eagle of Bryan-College Station reported this morning:
News this week that some student senators had targeted the center thrust the traditionally conservative university into the national spotlight, and Claybrook said it was time to “stop the bleeding.”
“The damage must stop today,” Claybrook wrote in a letter announcing his intention to veto. “Texas A&M students represent our core value of respect exceptionally and I’m very proud of the family at this university. Now, more than ever, is the time to show great resolve and come together, treating each other like the family that we are.”
The Student Senate would need a two-thirds majority to override Claybrook’s veto. The bill passed by a smaller margin, 35-28. Even if the veto is overridden and the bill becomes policy, it almost certainly would be struck down in court, The Eagle reports:
Ken Upton, senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal’s Dallas office, said even if the bill were signed and adopted as university policy, it wouldn’t last long.
“The most likely result is that a court would step in and stop it before it even happened,” Upton said.
He said there was clear legal precedent on the issue as laid out in the Supreme Court’s ruling in Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System v. Southworth, where students sued their university because they opposed multicultural, environmental and GLBT groups.
“This issue is pretty well settled,” Upton said.
If somehow the measure did work its way through the courts, he said, top university officials could be held liable.
“… The people with decision making authority who allowed it to happen could be held liable full money damages,” Upton said. “But it would probably be struck down so quickly that money damages wouldn’t be an issue.”
Claybrook’s veto marks the second victory in as many days over measures targeting campus LGBT resource centers in Texas. On Thursday night, under immense pressure from the LGBT community, state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, withdrew a budget amendment that would have prohibited universities from using state funds “to support, promote, or encourage any behavior that would lead to high risk behavior for AIDS, HIV, Hepatitis B, or any sexually transmitted disease.”
Let’s hope Zedler, the student senators behind the Texas A&M bill and other right-wing extremists in Texas have learned their lesson, and this will be the last time we see efforts to target LGBT resource centers on university campuses. But don’t count on it.