March 22, 2004

Wagner briefs LGBT on Druid Hills GC meeting

By Eric Rangus

President Jim Wagner visited the March 16 meeting of the President's Commission on the Status of LGBT Concerns and updated the commission on a conversation he had with the rising president of Druid Hills Golf Club (DHGC) concerning the club's policies on same-sex domestic partners.

Wagner spoke frankly with the commission, which had sent him a letter strongly recommending that he make a statement against the club's membership policies. Those policies do not treat a gay member's same-sex domestic partner the same as a heterosexual spouse.

Wagner thanked the commission for contacting him directly with its concerns but added that an activist, defiant stance regarding this issue may not accomplish as much as a more measured approach.

"If we had simply made an empty, angry statement, we would have no influence on this," Wagner said. He discussed his meeting with rising club President Kent Smith, whom he described as "progressive," and also outlined Emory's relationship with the club, which is unofficial.

Wagner said that, as Emory president (and for $350 a month in dues), DHGC offers him the privileges of membership. He said he has paid the dues but not used the club's facilities since the well-publicized story broke earlier this year. "I'd like to [use the club]. My wife and I will be empty nesters, and we wouldn't mind taking up golf." He said several members of the Emory community have memberships at DHGC, but they pay for them out of their own pockets. Wagner added that some administrators have considerations for such memberships (not necessarily at DHGC) built into their salaries.

In conclusion, Wagner said he was confident that DHGC was headed in the right direction. After discussing DHGC Wagner invited questions on other issues, and one concerned the University's position on the proposed gay marriage prohibition amendment to the Georgia constitution. He said he didn't feel it was appropriate for a diverse entity like a university to take a stand on such an issue, but added that if such an amendment "would be construed as affecting anything we have done for same-sex domestic partners in our benefits, then we would take a stand."

In other commission news, Nathan Woodling of the membership and outreach subcommittee said it is organizing another commission-wide volunteer project with Project Open Hand. Scheduled for Friday, April 23, and planned in conjunction with Volunteer Emory. Woodling said he hoped to recruit both current and new commission members for the event. The membership and outreach subcommittee will meet in early April to consider new nominees, and their first commission meeting as members would be April 20.

The commission also voted to donate $300 to co-sponsor an event with Sacred Worth, an organization based in the Candler School of Theology that works to challenge attitudes and practices concerning human sexuality.

The next LGBT meeting will be Tuesday, April 20, at 5:30 p.m. in 400 Administration.

If you have a question or comment for LGBT, e-mail Chair Jeff Martin at .