Marquette students organize online in support of lesbian Dean candidate

Sat. May 8, 2010 12:00 AM by News Staff

Facebook page started as school schedules "Listening Session"

Milwaukee, Wis. - More than a thousand people have joined a Facebook page in support of a lesbian sociologist who was offered a job at Marquette University in Milwaukee, only to see it yanked away.

Jodi O'Brien had already come to Milwaukee to shop for a house when the job offer was abruptly rescinded. She was supposed to be the school's new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

In a video posted online, Marquette President Rev. Robert Wild said: "I want to say strongly, clearly and directly what this decision is not about. It is not about sexual identity. That's important to say. If we were approaching matters in that way, it is not only illegal, it's against our Catholic faith.

"We have a variety of men and women here who are homosexual who work in all sorts of venues at this university, holding a variety of positions. They do great work. They make a variety of contributions to this university. It is certainly not about sending a negative message to these men and women."

The message goes on to say, basically, that they really screwed this one up and had no idea they were going to get such blowback.

Students and supporters of O'Brien wonder why, if her academic work (readily available online) really was the issue, why didn't anyone at the college check it out beforehand?

Meanwhile O'Brien will maintain her position as the chair of the sociology department at Seattle University, which is also a Catholic school.

And in Milwaukee, students at Marquette are being told their concerns will be heard at a "Listening Session" scheduled for Tuesday, May 11.