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Response to Jake Bebar

| Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In a letter to the editor published Jan. 27, Jake Bebar entertained a question first posed by alumnus Gregory Bergman in December: “[I]s SCOP merely a right-wing extremist group?” If such a question deserved a response, an appropriate one would be: Try to avoid pejorative labels, which are usually unjust and harmful to clear thinking.

Bebar took a different approach. He nodded at there being other views, but then professed himself “deeply skeptical” of SCOP’s mission, implied that SCOP would “link [his] sexuality to pedophilia” and charged that we are “on a quest to take away [his] right to marry and to demean gay relationships.” Besides one intimation of guilt by association, Bebar offered no evidence whatsoever for these very serious charges.

Without evidence to contest, it is hard to know where to start in refuting these accusations, which are, all of them, false. Allow me, then, to lay to rest some questions whose answers should have been taken for granted from the very start. SCOP affirms the dignity of, and opposes hatred against, every single LGBTQ person on campus and throughout the world. We welcome, support and love our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We want all LGBTQ persons to be happy, to flourish, to make the most of their lives at Notre Dame and elsewhere. We want this for every human being, and we never would have dreamed of excluding LGBTQ persons from our goodwill toward all. These are views that no individual or group at Notre Dame should have to make explicit: they are to be expected unless proven otherwise.

Although “deeply skeptical of SCOP’s mission,” Bebar “fully support[s]” the only part of our alleged mission that is true: “to promote policy-making that places primary emphasis on how any particular policy affects children.” Beyond empirical effects, we believe that policies may also affect the rights of children. Among other areas, we believe that education, drug, pornography and marriage policies implicate the rights of children.

On marriage policy, we believe that one part of any good policy is that it protects the right of every child (rich or poor) to the care of his or her biological mother and biological father. Those who are responsible for bringing a child into the world have a duty to live as a family with that child. This is why we think that public policy should encourage marriage, understood as the union of a man and a woman: relationships between a man and a woman are relationships that may bring vulnerable children into the world.

SCOP does not believe that marriage policy is about judging the worth of LGBTQ persons. Affirming the principles of the Declaration of Independence, SCOP believes that no law, no government, no group, no individual has any authority over the dignity of any human being. A person’s a person no matter how small, and a person’s a person no matter anything else either. It is impossible to deny the dignity of any person, including LGBTQ persons, although people sometimes engage in futile efforts to do so. SCOP, of course, opposes any effort to deny or injure the dignity of any LGBTQ person.

SCOP’s only quest is to clarify and vindicate the rights of children in public policy, but some students on this campus seem determined to think otherwise. In print, the order of the day seems to be misquotation, misattribution of views and false, unsupported claims. In social media, crassness and mockery prevail. Even in person, SCOP members face uncivil discourse. For example, in her first month at Notre Dame, a freshman SCOP member putting up posters in a male dorm had to deal with a young man expressing his “hate” for SCOP and claiming, “No one who believes what they do deserves to be a group anywhere.”

Did this young woman deserve such a welcome to Notre Dame? Do SCOP members deserve false accusations and resulting damage to reputation and relationships alike? Certainly worse treatment occurs on campus, but can we under the Dome do no better?

For an answer, we might rely on the Gender Relations Center’s tireless efforts, but a good recent articulation is available. On Jan. 27, the University hosted a public debate on marriage. At that event, a student stood and praised civil discourse at Notre Dame. He welcomed views opposed to his own, and he called on Domers to take account of the persons their claims affect. The proponent of this ethic, which we all should follow, was Jake Bebar.

Tiernan Kane


Students for Child-Oriented Policy

Feb. 9

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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