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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Letter on OSU free speech ruling for anti-gay student newspaper

front page of anti-gay Oregon State University conservative student newspaper 'The Liberty' April 6-25, 2005

PHOTO: (click photo to enlarge) Oregon State University conservative student newspaper "The Liberty" front page from April 6-24, 2005 featured articles to politically agitate students about their student fee money being used to support things they opposed, such as the Women's Center and the Pride Center, which the paper carefully noted was called the Queer Resource Center. A conservative OSU Professor Fred Decker sponsored the newspaper to further Republican causes, including opposing marriage equality and amend the Oregon Constitution to forbid same-sex marriages. The students claimed to be victims of political correctness and they successfully sued after their newspaper boxes were removed by OSU under a then unwritten policy against non-campus approved newspapers.

Photo of story about gay women on page 7 of Jan. 9, 1976 Corvallis Gazette-Times

PHOTO: Jan. 9, 1976 feature article by Anne Wood, "Gay women: Coming out of the closet in Corvallis, 'Now I want to marry this woman,' " on p. 7-8 of (Corvallis, Oregon) Gazette-Times. One of the women profiled in the article came out in a letter to the editor of her student newspaper and she was active in early gay women's groups at Oregon State University. See previous post Gay 1976 newspaper controversy (5/3/06) on gay women in Corvallis wanting to get married and my opinion piece by Thomas Kraemer, "As I See It: 30 years later, views of gay issues same, Gazette-Times, Sept. 13, 2005.

Below is my letter to the editor in response to the news stories by the Associated Press, "OSU loses court decision about student newspaper," Gazette-Times, Oct. 24, 2012, p. A3 and Joce DeWitt, "OSU responds to court decision about student newspaper," Gazette-Times, Oct. 25, 2012, p. A3 (Associated Press contributed to this report), which said, "Oregon State University officials on Wednesday said they were surprised by a federal appeals court ruling to revive a complaint by the creators of a conservative-leaning student newspaper who say OSU officials arbitrarily restricted the paper's distribution." I note that this was an anti-gay Christian Republican student newspaper funded by the late OSU Professor Fred Decker. This court decision was also covered in the student newspaper article by Gabriella Morrongiello, "Appeals court finds OSU at fault," Barometer, posted Oct. 25, 2012 See previous post OSU students support drag, gay marriage and anti-gay newspapers (10/25/12).

I agree with the court ruling against OSU's restriction of the free speech rights of a conservative student newspaper. ("OSU loses court decision about student newspaper," Oct. 24 and "OSU Responds to court decision about newspaper," Oct. 25.)

I believe OSU should respond by continuing to support marriage equality, which the late OSU Professor Fred Decker opposed by sponsoring "The Liberty" newspaper and helping Republicans amend the Oregon Constitution to prohibit gay marriages.

Freedom of speech protects all. Many angry Gazette-Times readers threatened to cancel their subscriptions because the G-T, as a "family newspaper," did not censor the Jan. 9, 1976, feature article by Anne Wood, "Gay women: Coming out of the closet in Corvallis; 'Now I want to marry this woman.' "

Coincidentally, "The Daily Barometer" student newspaper at OSU recently published an editorial titled, "Join the majority, legalize same-sex marriage," on Oct. 23.

Apparently, many conservative students now support marriage equality.

Thomas Kraemer, Corvallis

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Support of free speech always the right thing," Gazette-Times, Oct. 27, 2012, p. A7 published online Oct. 26, 2012)

I find it to be an interesting coincidence that one of the early gay rights activists in Corvallis, Dunbar Aitkens, was part of the University of California Berkeley Free Speech Movement protests in the 1960s. While there he was arrested for doing with another man in public what heterosexual couples regularly do without being arrested. (Meredith May, "40 years on, Free Speechers talk all they want," San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 11, 2004, p. B-5) This is why I made this the first entry in my timeline of the history of OSU gay activism, which the gay history Professor Wayne Dynes noted was the first time he had seen a gay history timeline start with free speech. Read the local history, leading up to the Oregon State University Pride Center by Thomas Kraemer, "Corvallis, Oregon State University gay activism 1969-2004," posted April 30, 2010 on the Web site produced by The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS), located at the City University of New York Graduate Center. The site is and now hosted at the University of Chicago. The shortened URL will also go to it more easily if you are text messaging or hand typing the link.