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Stanford U. Gay Marriage Ban Supporters Remain Active Under Pressure

This story was written by Marisa Landicho, The Stanford Daily

With protests in White Plaza and new Facebook groups being created each day to sink Proposition 8, Stanford University students might be wondering if the measure to ban gay marriage has any support on campus at all. Although less conspicuous than the purple shirt-wearing crowd, the Yes on Prop. 8 side does exist on campus, albeit with a degree of fear.

Stanford has a reputation for being both a liberal campus and according to some conservatives highly intolerant of alternate political opinions. Students who support Prop. 8 are often fearful of a backlash and, as a result, keep their opinions secret.

I feel like whenever [Prop. 8] comes up with someone whos very much against Prop. 8, it ends up becoming a very angry conversation, said second-year graduate student Brooke Crosland. Accusations fly about being bigoted or hating gay people or being ignorant.

Crosland, who has phoned voters for the Yes on Prop. 8 campaign, has had people scream and cuss her out on the line. Because she has close friends who are gay, Crosland said she is hurt by people who refuse to understand her position and just call her intolerant. She says her position on Prop. 8 stems from a belief in the traditional definition of marriage, not hate or intolerance.

First-year chemistry graduate student Bob Rawle, who has been involved with the anti-gay marriage Web sites and, is not surprised that students in support of Prop. 8 have been less active.

I think there is a perception that if you come out in support of Prop. 8, there will be negative consequences social isolation, verbal attack, vandalism of private property or worse, Rawle said in an email to The Daily. Whether those threats are real or imagined, the effect of perceiving them to be real results in serious hesitation to say that you support Prop. 8.

Activism for the Yes on Prop. 8 side has been limited to personal efforts such as phone calling, blogs and other grassroots tactics. Those who have been involved in these tactics feel that the largely liberal campus makes open campaigning on campus counterproductive.

By contrast, the efforts of the Student Coalition for Marriage Equality have been strategically organized and seem to enjoy the support of the majority on campus.

There is an GLBT center you have resources, faculty, a facility against [Prop. 8], said Reagan Thompson 12, who opposes gay marriage on religious and political grounds. I mean, there is a 'Serra Palin' house, but no actual conservative house.

Thompson, a Republican, has felt the lack of ideological diversity since coming to campus. She said she is sometimes intimidated, knowing only two other conservative students in her dorm of 100 people.

People who are for Prop. 8 not only have to deal with being a minority on campus, but also with the stigma that their views stem from a hatred of homosexuals.

I believe homosexual couples should receive all the same rights, benefits, status as heterosexual couples, just not the name of marriage, said second-year economics graduate student Michael Bailey. I believe that once we give the name of marriage to units that dont have that procreative capability, then we lose that definition of marriage, that it is to protect children.

Bailey supports Prop. 8 on the grounds that marriage is for the sole purpose of holding parents responsible for their children. Bailey, who distanced himself from because of the sites tactics, thinks of himself as an idealist, not a bigot.

I think its horrible the amount of discrimination, the amount of persecution that homosexuals have suffered, Bailey said. I think its terrible, I think its despicble and I do understand that saying no would in some way rectify what has been done.

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