LGBT students at a Catholic college in Milwaukee successfully organized the college’s first Pride prom on Saturday, despite efforts from a Christian campus group to thwart the event.
Students at Marquette University’s LGBTQ+ Resource Center had been planning the dance for months. But members of Tradition Family and Property (TFP) Student Action, which works to defend traditional moral values,” have been trying to get it canceled since last fall.
TFP Student Action circulated an online petition urging Marquette president Michael Lovell to cancel the prom. The petition, which garnered more than 18,800 signatures since its launch last fall, cited Catholic doctrine regarding homosexuality as proof the event should be axed.
“The teaching of the Catholic Church is clear: Homosexuality vice is ’intrinsically disordered’ and contrary to natural law.’ Therefore, no Catholic campus should sponsor a dance that legitimizes unnatural behavior which deeply offends God.”
John Ritchie, TFP Student Action Director, told KFDI that promoting the dance “…is like promoting drugs for those who suffer from a drug addiction.”
Supporters of the event says attacks like Ritchie’s is proof that queer people are still marginalized.
“People say that we have made so many strides with gay marriage being legal. That’s true, but we still have so much further to go,” Maria Bunczak, a sophomore who helped organized the prom, told the National Catholic Reporter. “This petition really exemplifies that. Seeing that someone is against our mission helps fuel us even more.”
Bunczak wasn’t alone in fighting back against the haters: Marquette graduate student Cameron Sanchez and alumna Paige Gardner set up a “Black Out Hate” fundraiser in response to the bigoted backlash, raising more than $2,200 for a local LGBT nonprofit.
In a statement, officials at the 136-year-old Jesuit school said they stood behind the dance and support LGBT students.
“Marquette strives at every level to foster a culture of inclusion, which means we are a community that respects, welcomes and promotes a sense of belonging. We support our LGBT community… recognizing that they have an important voice that we must include in our conversations.”