The Supreme Court considered two cases in March with tremendous implications for the future of gay marriage in the United States, the culmination of a year in which LGBTQ policy debates were dominant on the Hilltop and across the country.
Despite a changing tide of public opinion evidenced by the legalization of gay marriage in Maine, Maryland and Washington in November and the election of Georgetown’s first openly gay student body president in February, the LGBTQ community considers itself to still be fighting for acceptance on Georgetown’s campus.
The Georgetown University Student Association Safe Transitions Working Group implemented the changes suggested by the LGBTQ Safety and Security Report, prompted by public debate over a proposal to include an LGBTQ-friendly checkbox on freshman housing surveys. Although the idea drew criticism and was shelved before the summer of 2012, it marked an increase in attention to LGBTQ well-being at Georgetown.
The changing environment for LGBTQ students at Georgetown was reflected in the election of Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) as Georgetown’s first openly gay GUSA president. Tisa, who is only the second openly gay student body president at a major Jesuit university in the United States, said he takes this responsibility seriously.
“It reaffirms my love for Georgetown,” Tisa said, who was sworn into office with his hand on a book authored by a gay Jesuit. “I feel like because I am the first, I have to do a good job and look at specifically the needs of that community as well as bridging the gap between [the LGBTQ] community and other communities on campus.”
Craig Cassey (COL ’15), elected in November to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, is the youngest openly gay elected official in the country.
“I’m just thinking we’re seeing a change in tolerance for homophobic actions, especially for a top-tier university like Georgetown,” Cassey said.
At the national level, the Supreme Court heard arguments on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act at the end of last month. Students joined scores of protestors at the Supreme Court on March 26, lending their support to both sides of the case.
GUSA has been working on implementing the Safe Spaces Program, which will train student advocates to deal with sexual assault, relationship violence, harassment and discrimination to provide support for victims of bias and harassment when it launches next fall.
Tisa also plans to broach the subject of gender-neutral housing — an arrangement that some have seen as in conflict with Georgetown’s Catholic identity.
“I think the university has a responsibility to make sure students feel empowered in the housing process,” Tisa said.