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Thursday, July 2, 2015

OSU President sends email on SCOTUS gay marriage decision

From the office of the President of Oregon State University Edward J. Ray

PHOTO: "From the office of the President of Oregon State University Edward J. Ray" letter head for an official email memo to the OSU community giving his reactions to the SCOTUS decision on gay marriage. (See previous post OSU students react to SCOTUS gay marriage decision and the invention of 'religious liberty' by opponents (7/2/15))

I have appreciated Oregon State University President Ed Ray's leadership on gay marriage equality, especially given the fact that he holds a politically appointed position that is accountable to both the legislature of the State of Oregon and also the Federal government as a land grant State University President. It was only a decade ago that Oregon Republicans, to help get President Bush reelected in 2004, put on the ballot a State Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage, and it passed by a majority of voters. Below is the text of the email sent to everyone at OSU from the OSU President that I received after the SCOTUS decision on gay marriage in Jun. 2015:

"Members of the Oregon State community,

Friday's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the constitutional right to marriage by couples of the same sex is remarkable and historic. Although the decision is long overdue, it advances equity and inclusion in America and I overwhelmingly support the court's decision.

Members of the LGBT community and allies nationally, in Oregon, and those who work and attend school at Oregon State University have waited far too long for the legal right of every American to pursue happiness in marriage. It was just a year ago in May that Oregon became the 19th U.S. state to recognize same-sex marriages. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Friday to make same-sex marriage a right nationwide, 36 states and the District of Columbia had already done so. All the while, in recent polling, a majority of Americans had already said they supported marriage equality as did nearly 80 percent of those ages 18-29.

Civil justice and fundamental equality are bedrock constitutional rights and they should not be decided by polls.

At Oregon State, we are fully committed to diversity and stand united for the dignity and inclusivity of all people. OSU's institutional values statement says that "Oregon State University is an authentic community, whose accomplishments and inclusive excellence, innovation and leadership promote a healthy planet, wellness and economic progress."

Yet, we recognize that such words accomplish very little without action demonstrating our personal commitment to each other.

President Obama had it right Friday when he praised the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court by saying: "Our nation was founded on the bedrock principle that we are all created equal. The project of each generation is to bridge the meaning of those founding words with the realities of changing times - a never-ending quest to ensure those words ring true for every single American."

At Oregon State, even as we celebrate Friday's decision, we must never forget that there are many communities for whom equality is elusive, and achieving justice for all will still be a process - or as President Obama called it "a project for each generation."

I expect that this process to ensure equality will engage each of us every day here at OSU. And moving forward, whether at Oregon State University, throughout Oregon or across this great nation, we all must re-commit to the foundational principle upon which this country was created that equality is an inarguable right for everyone that we must all support.

Edward J. Ray, President, 600 Kerr Administration Building, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-2128 (541-737-4133)"

(Quoted from email memo received from Edward J. Ray, President, Oregon State University that he sent to the OSU community after the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling Jun. 2015)

For people outside of academia, this memo may seem too "politically correct," but for its intended audience, at this time and place, it is perfect and reflects Ray's integrity, in addition to his political skills (and I do mean this as a compliment).