February 6, 2006
LGBT commission eyes possible gay-adoption law
BY christi gray
President Jim Wagner appeared at the President’s Commission on the Status of LGBT Concerns meeting Jan. 24, held in 400 Administration, and spoke with the commission about issues such as, gay adoption, civil liberties and Emory’s strategic plan.
Chair Paul Towne opened the meeting, and reported that the commission is preparing for possible Georgia legislation banning gay adoption. Towne listed some of the commission’s tactics, such as keeping the Office of the President informed, working with lobbyists and the Atlanta community, and continuing to build awareness on campus.
Director of the Office of LGBT Life and ex-officio member Saralyn Chesnut continued the discussion presenting findings from a Georgia Equality poll. The poll shows that most Georgians don’t want an across-the-board ban on gay adoption, and, concerns for child welfare seem to overshadow gay issues.
“In the realm of gay adoption legislation, I suggest letting sleeping dogs lie. Although being prepared for such legislation is important,” Wagner said. “We have an enlightening job to do, and we need to get it right on campus first.”
Wagner advised building partnerships with other universities on the issue of gay adoption. One member suggested that such a plan could be a strategic model for how to approach other LGBT issues, giving Emory the potential to lead in LGBT activism.
“We are in a different place politically than other Emory commissions right now,” said co-chair-elect Andy Wilson. “[Adopting] progressive policies sets Emory apart from other universities.”
Emory is the only university in Georgia that has a domestic-partner benefits program and the only school to have a body like the LGBT commission.
“To me, the issue isn’t about gay adoption—it’s about having a welcoming environment,” Wagner said. Adding that the commission should contact other Atlanta Regional Council for High Education (ARCHE) schools to start a dialogue on human rights.
Wagner then talked about how the commission can help implement the strategic plan. “One of the simplest ways to communicate the strategic plan is to link LGBT issues to some element of the vision statement,” he said.
In other business, nominations are now being accepted for new commission members. The deadline for applications is March 1, and new members will be invited to the commission’s last meeting of the semester on April 18 and the its spring retreat on April 21.
For more information, visit www.emory.edu/PCLGBTC/membership.htm, or contact Cathi Wentworth at 770-784-4631 or email@example.com.
The commission and the Office of LGBT Life are hosting Intersex Transgendered Awareness Week, to be held around campus Feb. 20–24. For more information, contact Jaclyn Barbarow at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.emory.edu/CAMPUS_LIFE/LGBTOFFICE/calendar/index.html.
The 14th Annual Pride Banquet will be held March 2 at 6:30 p.m. in Miller-Ward Alumni House. This event is co-sponsored by the commission, the Office of LGBT Life and the Emory Gay and Lesbian Alumni.
The next LGBT meeting will be held Tuesday, March 21, at 5:15 p.m. in 400 Administration.