Recognition of Homosexual Student Organization
Disrupts UMC Campus
Nebraska Wesleyan University Support Student
Who Got Death Threats Over Gay Rights
Monday, April 27, 1998 From the Chronicle of Higher Education By
JASON M. REYNOLDS
Several hundred students and faculty members at Nebraska Wesleyan University held a
rally Thursday to support a student-government senator who had received death threats
after proposing that the university extend official recognition to a gay-rights group.
Jonathan Judge, a non-gay member of the group Plains Pride, proposed a bill to recognize
the organization three weeks ago. A week later, he received two death threats on his
answering machine. Police in Lincoln, Neb., have no leads in the case, said Sara A.
Boatman, the university's vice-president for student affairs.
The student government voted, 26 to 8, on Thursday to formally recognize the 40-member
organization. Plains Pride comprises gay and lesbian students as well as straight students
who support gay rights. The university's president, Jeanie Watson, has pledged to sign Mr.
Judge's bill so it can take affect, Ms. Boatman said.
The dispute over the bill came at a time of tension over gay issues on the campus. Last
month, a straight member of Plains Pride was shoved to the ground by three unidentified
assailants who called him a "fag lover," Ms. Boatman said. The group's fliers
have been torn down recently.
Nebraska Wesleyan is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, which has been
divided by gay-rights issues. The church's national Council of Bishops was set to meet in
Lincoln on Saturday to discuss gay rights and possibly other issues, although the meeting
had been scheduled before Mr. Judge was threatened.
Gay rights has been an especially controversial topic in the Methodist Church since
last month's acquittal, in a church trial, of a Nebraska minister who performed a lesbian
wedding last fall.