Brigham Young University is a private, Mormon University, known for its conservative, religious values. BYU students have to follow an honor code, which requires abstinence from extramarital sex and prohibits drug and alcohol use. BYU’s stance on homosexuality perhaps isn’t surprising, either. The school sees homosexuality as inappropriate, and requires chastity for anyone who might come out as gay.
The school’s newspaper isn’t so progressive on the issue of gay rights either. Recently, BYU censored a letter to the editor that was critical of Proposition 8, the ballot measure that banned gay marriage in California.
Tuesday’s paper featured a letter to the editor criticizing the legal case for Proposition 8. Cary Crall, a student at BYU, argued that Mormons should admit that they are opposed to gay marriage for religious reasons. Despite the controversial nature of the letter, it was initially published. Soon afterward, the letter was pulled from the website.
According to Crall, he first submitted the letter to the newspaper a few weeks ago, but the summer editor responded that the letter was inappropriate for a “newspaper funded by the LDS Church.” It was only published after edits and once a new editor was in place.
Crall’s letter made some valid points that should have been published and remained on the website for students to discuss.
In the letter, he points out that in the case that overturned Proposition 8, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, only two witnesses agreed to testify in favor of Proposition 8. There was a huge discrepancy between the arguments that pro-Prop 8 church leaders presented to voters during the campaign and the arguments presented in court. During the campaign, those in favor of Proposition 8 argued that the proposition would force religious organizations to recognize and perform gay marriages, force religious adoption agencies to allow gay parents to adopt children, and that children would learn about gay marriage in school.
Yet, in court, the defense couldn’t find expert witnesses willing to testify on these points. Most likely, the four witnesses who planned on testifying in defense of Prop 8, but withdrew on the first day of the trial, realized that the points they were arguing were invalid. The two expert witnesses who did testify had their arguments ripped apart by Judge Vaughn Walker in his eventual ruling.
Crall calls on Mormon supporters of Proposition 8 to be honest about their reason for opposing gay marriage — religion. But instead of addressing Crall’s concerns through an intellectual discussion (the newspaper easily could have published the opposing viewpoint and started a debate on the topic), BYU chose to censor his letter and hide his beliefs from their students.
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