In the back of Mark Regnerus’ lecture on “the mating market” Thursday night sat a small but readily visible group of students wearing GU Pride T-shirts and holding rainbow flags.
The group, representatives of Georgetown’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual and ally community, attended the event, which was sponsored by Love Saxa, to protest Regnerus’ invitation to campus and his past research on “family structure,” which criticizes same-sex parenting.
“We feel that all Georgetown students, faculty and staff have the right to feel safe here on the Hilltop, which is our home,” Carly Rosenfield (COL ’14), one of the protest’s organizers, said. “We would thus like to encourage our classmates to think about the implications of bringing to campus speakers who have expressed prejudicial opinions for those of us who are personally affected by these assertions, such as Dr. Regnerus’ study condemning same-sex parenting.”
Love Saxa, housed in Campus Ministry, works to combat sexualized culture on campus.
“We get a lot of messages from the media on sexuality and the hookup culture, and we don’t think it’s conducive to healthy sexuality,” Love Saxa board member Abigail Galvan (SFS ’14) said. “We feel that it is important to be present to provide a range of different perspectives on gender and relationships in order to foster constructive dialogue that affirms all identities.”
J. Capecchi (COL ’14), another student who helped organize the LGBTQ presence, was critical of Love Saxa.
“From what I see of their programming, it seems very well-intentioned but very heterosexist, cissexist and plain old sexist,” Capecchi said. “I can’t say whether [Regnerus] is or why his study is anti-gay, which is why we’re going in with a positive presence. We’re not there to attack him. We’re there to make sure people aren’t being oppressed.”
The presence at Thursday’s event was organized independently of GU Pride, but the organization does intend to protest another Love Saxa event next week about marriage.
“Me and some other queer people noticed that both events revolve around queer issues, but they aren’t through any queer people,” Capecchi said. “Nothing about us without us. We want to be present, not to derail anything but to make them aware that we are here on campus.”
According to an October 2012 interview with the conservative organization Focus on the Family, Regnerus, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, maintains that his study is not intended to prove the “inherent inferiority” of gay parents. Love Saxa board member Emile Doak (COL ’14) and Galvan also said that although their group promotes heterosexual marriage, they do not intend to oppose or combat Georgetown’s LGBTQIA community.
“Love Saxa does believe marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have not invited Dr. Regnerus to speak about that issue,” said Doak. “We don’t exist to counter the LGBT community. We welcome and encourage their attendance at our events. We like to see this more as a dialogue than as a divisive thing.”
Regnerus’ talk Thursday concerned his research on recent changes in relationships and the role of contraceptives in these transformations.
“The mating market split into two forms. You could be interested in sex now and not have to worry about getting pregnant,” Regnerus said. “Now there are more men interested in sex than marriage and more women interested in marriage.”
Director of Adult Faith Formation Ennio Mastroianni addressed the LGBTQIA group’s quiet presence when introducing Regnerus.
“We are one people here,” he said. “There’s no us and them. … We’re all hopefully people of good will trying to discern how to move forward as a community.”