If you see a faded sign on the side of the road that says “fifteen miles to the University of Louisville,” you'll be directed toward a university whose board of trustees recently voted to provide taxpayer-funded domestic partner benefits to its unmarried employees with live-in sexual partners.
While the university is in the midst of these sweeping changes, it might want to consider a name change that more adequately characterizes the school under its new policy, and we’ve got just the thing: "The Love Shack." Given the popularity of the song of that name, it would be more nationally recognizable than its present title, and would have a greater attraction for the kind of prospective employees to which it now says it would like to appeal.
In a recent article in the Courier-Journal, Bill Stone, a UofL trustee who claims to be a conservative, said that without such a policy the university would restrict its "opportunities to attract all kinds of folks."
It seems unlikely that the "folks" the university now wants to attract will be hopping in their Chryslers and setting sail for UofL just because of the new policy. (This is, after all, the Volvo crowd we're talking about here). But even if they did head down the highway, looking for Louisville’s academic love getaway, how will the new policy be viewed by other kinds of "folks"--"folks" who aren't looking for a place to work (or a place to send their children) that encourages unmarried live-in heterosexual and homosexual relationships among its employees?
What is UofL's message to these “folks”?
"Stay away fools, 'cause love rules" at the University of Louisville.
In reality (a concept not terribly popular at funky little schools like UofL—or, apparently, among their trustees), the new policy is likely to alienate as many people as it attracts—among both prospective staff and students. The folks “lining up just to get down” are likely to be no more numerous than those who decided not to get in line in the first place.
As the policies of public institutions like UofL stray further and further away from the moral convictions of the taxpayers who are asked to support them, officials in control of those institutions cannot reasonably expect to bang on the door of the General Assembly, with a budget as big as a whale, and demand that legislators ask their constituents to hurry up and bring their jukebox money to pay for it.
This is why the controversy over UofL's policy is now as hot as an oven:
If taxpayers should expect anything, they ought at least to expect the institutions they support not to actively undermine their own values.
"I also want to make it clear," the “conservative” Stone went on, "this is not an endorsement of gay marriage or any of the other lightning issues."
Not so fast. Put all the glitter on it you want, that’s exactly what this decision is.
For years our cultural institutions have encouraged marriage. They have done this because there has been a cultural consensus on one simple fact—a consensus that still predominates despite the attempts of institutions like UofL to ignore it: marriage is good for society. If there is one fact that social science has established over the course of its existence, it is this one.
You can believe what you want to about non-marital, live-in relationships—same-sex or otherwise. You may think they're a Cosmic Thing. But the evidence they are good for society is slim to none, and when it comes to the consequences for children, that’s definitely not where it’s at.
Stone has obviously found in the University of Louisville Board of Trustees a little ol’ place where he can get together with others who see it as responsible to use taxpayer dollars to undermine marriage. We’re quite confident that the whole shack shimmies when Stone and his liberal friends bat these issues around and around and around as they make policy for the university.
Stone has the right to say anything he wants to. But when he starts lip synching the gay rights agenda, he really should be more careful in portraying it as "conservative". If marriage isn't one of those things conservatives are trying to conserve, then there's very little point in being one.
© 2006 by Martin Cothran. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be published without the express written consent of the author. These comments are the personal opinions of the author and should not be interpreted as representing the official opinion of any other persons or organizations.
This piece appears in today's Louisville Courier-Journal online opinion page.