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UVU president listed in legal brief arguing against marriage equality

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Posted at 10:04 PM, May 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-05 00:04:03-04

OREM, Utah -- The U.S. Supreme Court’s fight over gay marriage is now connected to Utah Valley University.  The president of the university, Dr. Matthew Holland, is listed in a legal brief arguing against marriage equality.

"I'm very disappointed to hear that Dr. Holland's name is on that brief," said Jacquelyn Finnegan-Smith, a communications student at UVU.  She is from and LGBT family. "I would say UVU itself is very open to different cultures as well as sexuality."

Dr. Daniel Horns, the Associate Dean of the College of Science, agrees the campus culture is welcoming to the LGBT community.  He said in part, that is thanks to Holland.

"What made Dr. Holland's inclusion in the brief very surprising to us is the fact that he has, in his professional life here at UVU done more for gays and lesbians than certainly anyone in the history of this institution," Horns said.

Horns joined more than 85 of his colleagues in a letter calling Holland's actions disappointing and harmful to the values of the public university.

"Our concern is not to try and change his mind or to say that he did the wrong thing.  We just wanted to publicize the fact that this is a welcoming environment for all students," Horns said.

The '100 scholars of marriage' brief was filed as part of the ongoing case the U.S. Supreme Court is considering, deciding whether or not states have the right to decide the issue of gay marriage for themselves  The court is expected to issue a decision by the end of June.

Holland's office has put out a statement in response to the concern about his name and title being in the brief:

As the brief indicates, Matthew Holland’s title was used for identification purposes only. He was signing as an individual, and not in any capacity on behalf of the university. As President Holland has always championed on campus, diversity and inclusion mean creating an environment of genuine respect and civility for all people in the exercise of strong and different beliefs, and from different backgrounds. As the record shows, this has been, and remains, a core value of his administration.