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Outside group protests gay marriage

| Sunday, April 27, 2014

A group from the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP)  gathered outside DeBartolo Hall dressed formally in red and black Friday to hand out flyers titled “10 Reasons why Homosexual ‘Marriage’ is Harmful and Must be Opposed” and talked to students about opposition to gay marriage.

A counter-demonstration of students gathered next to the TFP group with a sign taped on a recycle bin reading “ND students support equal rights for all people.”

Around 12:30 p.m., Notre Dame Security Police officers asked the TFP group to leave because their assembly violated Notre Dame policy on outside groups distributing information, as well as its video and photography policy, University spokesperson Dennis Brown said.

Members of the Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property hand out flyers outside DeBartolo Hall on Friday, as freshman Nick Lindstrom takes part in a counter-demonstration nearby. Lesley Stevenson | The Observer

Members of the Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property hand out flyers outside DeBartolo Hall on Friday, as freshman Nick Lindstrom takes part in a counter-demonstration nearby.

“The Orestes Brownson Council student group received permission to distribute information on campus this week. Our policies explicitly state that only members of the University community may organize or lead such events on campus,” Brown said. “When University officials learned that, contrary to our policies, the student group made this request on behalf of an outside organization, we asked that they leave.”

Brown said the group also failed to get permission to shoot video footage on campus and recorded videos and took photos of people without their permission.

TFP, based in Pennsylvania, has more than 120,000 members nationwide, according to the group’s website. John Ritchie, TFP’s student action director, said their visit to Notre Dame fit within a larger tour.

“We fight for moral values in society, and our student outreach decided to visit Notre Dame because we’re doing a tour through the whole state of Indiana defending the traditional marriage definition, which is the union of one man and one woman,” Ritchie said. 

He said he had no comment on the student counter-protest. 

Freshman Nick Lindstrom said he brought out a trash can with the sign on it because he wanted to show the protestors that not all students at a Catholic university “conform to that traditional stereotype.” 

“I’m not affiliated with any group, I just saw [the TFP protestors], and I figured something needed to be done,” Lindstrom said. “I brought a couple friends with me, and a bunch of people just joined in. … It was just so great to see that other Notre Dame students are willing to hold this position with me.” 

Sophomore Caroline Clark said she spoke to the TFP group on campus Thursday, but returned Friday to learn more about what they were doing.

“I initially came out because I saw their signs [Thursday], and I was personally offended,” she said. “I came back here today just to chat with them a bit, learn more about their message.

“I was just very curious about their message and wanted to learn more about their goals and objectives and why Notre Dame was a place that needed to hear what they are teaching [and] spreading. So we were both very calm, collected.” 

Sophomore Chris Rhyne said he talked to the group to question their stance and then posted on Facebook inviting other students to join him in the counter-protest. Sophomores Nora Williamson and Emer Middleton arrived as the TFP group was leaving, with a handmade sign reading “equality” in capital letters.

Lindstrom said he was concerned about the prospective student groups in the area who witnessed “this unfortunate protest” while passing on a tour and wanted to demonstrate to them and to the TFP group that not all students on campus oppose gay marriage. 

News Editor Lesley Stevenson contributed to this report.

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About Ann Marie Jakubowski

Senior News Writer, formerly Editor-in-Chief. English and Spanish double major, minor in journalism, ethics and democracy. Grand Rapids, Mich., native. Notre Dame Class of 2015.

Contact Ann Marie