Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Minnesotans United for All Families.
St. Olaf College faculty members on Thursday took a symbolic vote to oppose the proposed Minnesota marriage amendment.
On Nov. 6, Minnesotans will vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman—which would limit marriage to opposite sex couples.
The vote comes a week after the group of St. Olaf Votes No, made up of alumni and friends of the school, started a petition in opposition of the amendment. The petition has collected nearly 800 signatures.
St. Olaf is a liberal arts college of the church in the Lutheran tradition (ELCA).
According to the college, it was resolved that “the St. Olaf faculty opposes the proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment limiting the freedom of same-sex couples to marry.”
When asked about the petition earlier this week, David Gonnerman with St. Olaf media relations told Patch that the college wouldn't take an official position on the issue. When contacted Thursday about the faculty vote, he said the statement stands, which is:
"The appropriate role for a college is to encourage and prepare its students to take informed positions on public policy issues, to participate in discussion of them, and to exercise their right to vote. St. Olaf's mission states that we 'challenge our students to be responsible and knowledgeable citizens of the world' and we encourage all Minnesotans to do the same. This is the role St. Olaf embraces.
But St. Olaf doesn't take official positions on the many issues that are now and will be under public debate."
The vote came at the faculty's first meeting of the year. Last school year, there were 218 full-time faculty members and 115 part-time faculty members, according to St. Olaf records.
The St. Olaf faculty is the third in Minnesota to publicly oppose the amendment, joining the faculties from the University of Minnesota and William Mitchell College of Law, according to Minnesotans United for All Families.
Gonnerman said the voting at St. Olaf faculty meetings is an internal matter and said a breakdown of faculty who opposed and supported the amendment wouldn’t be released. At this time, no further action is being planned with the symbolic vote.
Minnesotans United for All Families released the following statement after word spread of the St. Olaf faculty's vote:
We applaud the faculty of St. Olaf College for taking this stance against an amendment that hurts real Minnesota families all across the state. Each time a city, faculty, business or community of faith speaks out against this amendment it sparks conversations all across the state about what marriage means and who should have the freedom to participate in it. We are proud to see more and more Minnesotans say that they will treat all people the way they want to be treated, instead of singling out same-sex couples and excluding them from the freedom to marry. The momentum from every corner of the state is palpable, and we welcome the faculty of St. Olaf College to the growing number of Minnesotans who are standing up to say No to this freedom-limiting amendment.
Vote No Support
Members of the St. Olaf community aren't the only ones publicly opposing the amendment.
Late last week, a group of alumni from Carleton College also started a petition about the issue. Unlike the St. Olaf Votes No! petition, which is for general opposition to the proposed amendment, the one started by Carleton alumni urges the school to publicly oppose the proposed marriage amendment.
That petition has collected about 300 signatures. There's also a Facebook group called Carleton Alumni for Marriage Equality supporting the effort.
Eric Sieger, director of media relations for Carleton, told Patch "we clearly value the personal choices and commitments of every member of the Carleton family ... (but) we do not take political stances on social issues that do not involve our core educational mission."
The faculty vote and petitions come on the heels of Augsburg College last week publicly opposing the marriage amendment.
Augsburg College, a private Minneapolis liberal arts college associated with the ELCA, was the second higher educational institution in Minnesota to publicly oppose the marriage amendment, according to Minnesotans United for All Families. The school, which has an enrollment of 4,000 students, joined Capella University, which publicly opposed the amendment last month.
More marriage amendment posts on Northfield Patch
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- Minnesota Companies that Support the Marriage Amendment
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- Why I Am Voting Yes for the Minnesota Marriage Amendment
- A Legacy—A Poem Opposing the Minnesota Marriage Amendment
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- One Reason I Oppose the Marriage Amendment: The Children
- For the Sake of Minnesota's Constitution—JUST VOTE NO!
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