UVU President lends his name and title to amicus brief supporting traditional marriage

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Carrie Laudie | Editor in Chief | @carrielaudie


On Tuesday, April 28, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard arguments about whether or not same-sex marriage should be legalized.

An amicus brief was submitted by “100 scholars of marriage,” including President Matthew Holland, who not only used his name, but also his title as the president of Utah Valley University when signing. This brief was written by the attorney, Gene Schaerr, who the state of Utah hired to defend the constitutional amendment that had been struck down by the 10th circuit court, and has controversial claims in it about how communities that have legalized same-sex marriage see a decline in marriage by opposite-sex couples by 5 percent.

The brief also states that redefining marriage (over the next 30 years) “would result in nearly 1.3 million fewer women marrying. That would lead to an additional nearly 600,000 children born into non-marital parenting situations, and nearly 900,000 more children aborted.”

These statistical estimates are derived from a study done in the Netherlands that saw a decline in marriage in less religious parts of the population. The data also comes from states that legalized same-sex marriage and saw a decline in marriages, while the U.S. average marriage rate remained the same.

A letter was submitted to the Salt Lake Tribune, in response to an article posted online in the Tribune on Sunday April 26, by faculty of UVU who disagreed with Holland using the name of the university in the brief. The letter states:

“As professors at Utah Valley University, we deplore President Holland’s decision to lend his (and our) name to a cause that has no legitimate scientific support.

All of us, including Matt Holland, have the right to speak publicly as private citizens on controversial issues. However, as the public face of UVU to the larger community, Holland has a special responsibility to avoid associating the name of the institution with specious arguments, particularly when they fly in the face of his (and our) stated core values of “diversity and inclusion.”

Holland’s involvement in this nonsense is disappointing, embarrassing, and harmful to values at the core of our work at a state university.”

Holland’s office was contacted for a comment, but the president was out of town. The communication department did confirm that Holland signed the brief and that his name and title were used for identification purposes, and not meant to represent the university in an official capacity.

Laurie Wood, a professor at UVU and a plaintiff in the Kitchen v Herbert case, said that it was disappointing to have the name of the university used in the brief. The university has been virtually silent on Wood’s involvement in the case on same-sex marriage that was denied certiorari (declined hearing the case) by the Supreme Court in October 2014.

At graduation commencement and convocation ceremonies, some students and faculty wore a rainbow colored ribbon in silent protest of Holland’s involvement in the amicus brief.

Holland’s views on marriage shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, given his past association with NOM (National Organization for Marriage), he resigned his position when he became the president of the university. Under Holland’s administration, same-sex couples were extended staff benefits before it was mandated by the state and he also helped amend the non-discrimination clause to include sexual orientation.

David Beach, a former UVU student who served as the president of Spectrum, the LGBTQ club on campus, was upset when he learned about Holland’s involvement in NOM and felt that it “cast a shadow” on the school. When he was president of Spectrum he gained a lot of respect for Holland, especially the changes made to the non-discrimination policy and other resources that would benefit the LGBTQ community.

“I don’t have a problem with him signing the brief,” said Beach. “That is his personal right. However, once again it has cast a shadow on my school, the school I love. The school can say that he wasn’t signing on its behalf, but that doesn’t negate the fact that he used his title and ties to the school to gain favor with the court.”



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