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May 30, 2000 - Image 7

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2000-05-30

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The Michigan Daily -- Tuesday, May 30, 2000-7
.How to be gay' course under fire from House

By Manna LoPatin
Daily News Editor
Budget talks in the Michigan House
of Representatives became heated
Tuesday night when an amendment that
some representatives called unconstitu-
an tal came to the floor.
WEight Republican representatives
sponsored a proposal to set aside 10 per-
cent of a university's budget if it holds a
class "promoting or facilitating the par-
ticipation in a sexual lifestyle or pmactices
other than heterosexual monogamy"
The amendment was directed at the
Uiniversitv's fatl class "How to Be Gay:
Male Homosexuality and Initiation,"
taught by Prof. David Halperin.
Although a majority did vote for the
amendment. 56 votes were needed for it
pass and it failed by four votes.
Had the amendment passed and made

its way through conference commintee
with the Senate, the University would
have had to drop the class or forfeit the 10
percent to be distributed among the
state's 14 other public universities.
University Vice President for
Government Relations Cynthia
Wilbanks said even if the amendment
had passed, she does not believe it
would have survived in the Senate.
"These kinds of actions have been
attempted before, but thecy don't pre-
vail'" she said.
Rep. Valde Garcia (R-Clintots), a
sponsor of the amendment, said the pro-
posal was more of a symbolic gesture so
speak to the use of taxpayers' money.
"I don't believe we should be spend-
ing taxpayer dollars to teach a class to
teach someone to violate the law' he
said. Homosexuality "is still against the
lass and it offends many people's deep-

seated religious beliefs"
Jack McHugh, a legislative aid for
another of the amendment's sponsors,
Rep. Robert Gosselin (R-Grosse
Pointe), said he was not surprised that
thse amendment didn't pass.
"Traditionally, ideological amend-
ments have a hard time becoming part
of one-year budgets'" McHugh said.
Dut those who voted against the
amendment said is didn't pass because
it violates the State of Michigan
Constitution, which gives all state uni-
versities complete autonomy in teach-
itng and choosintg classcs.
"The legislature cannot dictate the
nature or content of university context
or a uriversity's individual courses."
said Rep. Liz Brater (D-Ann Arbor).
Mart Sweeney, legislative aid to Rep.
Sandy Caul (R-Mt. Pleasant) said Caul
"didn't feel that even if it svere to pass

that it would hold up constitutionally."
McHugh argued that the legislation
was drafted in a way that prevents it
from being colled unconstitutional.
Although a university is granted
autonomy, "the legislature is not
required to appropriate any particular
amount of funds,' he said. "To claim
that the Constitution prohibits (the
amendment) is an excuse."
While the debate over the amend-
ment lasted well into the night, Garcia
said he was not familiar with the actual
content of the class.
"We had some information about the
class and that it exists," he said.
"Devond that we don't know much
about it."
In a passed ametndment the House
added another 515 million to its higher
education budget recommendation--
giving each of the stare's 15 public utti-

I don't believe we*
should be spending
taxpayer dollars...
to teach someone
to violate the law."
- Rep. Valde Garcia
R- Clinton
versity's an extra 1 percent.
This brings the University up to a 6.4
percent increase in appropriations for
the Fiscal Year 2001. The bill now goes
back to the Senate. Also, all universities
are itn line for another 3 percent in a
pending supplemental bill.

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