Update: In a statement to Spectator, Tyler Trumbach, CC '13 and president of the Columbia University College Republicans, said, "While CUCR stands behind its decision to endorse marriage equality, we are deeply saddened to learn that in fact not all the ivy league chapters of the College Republicans have signed onto the pledge. When we asked if we could go ahead and make our pre-statement on Valentine's Day, we were told that we could by the Pennsylvania Republicans. We were under the impression from the organizers of the pledge at the University of Pennsylvania that all if not most were going to sign it. We have now learned that this is not the case. However, we still believe that we made the right decision. We are also proud of the fact that we made the announcement first. Hopefully, our decision will serve as an example to other schools in the future."
A number of Republican and Democratic clubs of the Ivy League have come together to publicly support marriage equality.
A joint statement released Thursday marks the first time several of the clubs, including the Columbia University College Republicans, officially supported marriage for same-sex couples.
“We, the College Democrats and College Republicans chapters of the Ivy League, endorse marriage equality and challenge our nation’s leaders to join us in defense of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples," the statement reads.
CUCR typically doesn’t take public stances on any political issues, president Tyler Trumbach, CC ’13, said.
“We think it’s the right thing to do now. Personally, I think we should have done this years ago,” Trumbach said. “It’s important for us to do this now to let people know that not all Republicans agree with the mainstream Republican party—especially young Republicans don’t all agree with that message.”
The idea for the statement came from students at the University of Pennsylvania, who reached out to the other clubs, seeking support for an Ivy-wide statement.
“When we got the email, we said of course we’ll sign, this is a no-brainer,” Columbia University Democrats president Janine Balekdjian, CC ’13, said. “We’ve been for marriage equality since way, way before I got to Columbia, and we were just very excited to hear that the Columbia Republicans had signed on.”
The two Columbia groups released an additional joint statement Thursday. Club leaders wanted to release it early to ensure that it would be noticed on Valentine’s Day, Trumbach said.
“The Columbia Democrats and Columbia University College Republicans are pleased to endorse marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples,” the statement reads. “Our generation overwhelmingly supports marriage equality, and we look forward to a future of bipartisan cooperation in ensuring equality for all Americans.”
“I think the goal of this is just to let other college Republican chapters across the country know—there are a lot them that do support marriage equality, but they just feel uncomfortable coming out and saying it—that there are resources, there are other chapters that will back them up on this position,” Trumbach said.
He added that the CUCR board voted to approve the statement with over 75 percent in favor, something he said never would have happened when he first joined the club his first year, or even last year.
Recent board changes have given the group “a new dynamic, a dynamic that’s not afraid of taking these stances,” Trumbach said. “Looking at our general body, we saw this same openness to accept marriage equality as well.”
Balekdjian said she felt excited about the declaration of support because she sees it as indicative of the larger national discourse.
“I think it’s supposed to be a sort of barometer of young Americans in the national discourse and how we feel about gay marriage and that we support it,” she said.
Tom Callander, CC ’13 and CUCR director of finance, also said he hopes the statement will have implications beyond the immediate Columbia campus.
“We think it’s an important step in showing the campus and people outside the Columbia community that there are a number of issues on which Republicans and Democrats can agree and there are common-sense bipartisan solutions, and we think that is an important lesson that not just people on our campus should learn, but our nation’s leaders as well,” he said.
However, Balekdjian said she believes the statement matters less at Columbia than at other schools with less liberal student bodies.
On the other hand, Trumbach said the statement is important for Columbia’s perception of CUCR.
“It sends the message that we’re not afraid to stand up for important values such as this,” Trumbach said. “Even Republicans, who are viewed kind of negatively on Columbia’s campus—in reality, we’re part of the community as well, we see these struggles and issues.”
Trumbach called this statement “one of the most important things this club has ever done” and said he hopes the joint effort will inspire students in other places to “not be afraid to take stances on controversial issues that are important for our time.”
An earlier version of this article stated that all Democratic and Republican clubs from the Ivy League had signed the pledge in support of marriage equality. Spectator regrets the error.