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Friday's 8-5 vote by the James Madison University Board of Visitors to immediately discontinue dispensing a certain kind of birth control pill at its campus health center was a shameful example of partisan politics trumping women's health needs.

The action was taken at the urging of Del. Robert Marshall, a Republican from Manassas and one of the legislature's most aggressive opponents of women's reproductive rights. Marshall's meddling prompted Republican State Senate candidate Mark Obenshain, a member of the Board of Visitors, to call for a motion to discontinue the practice of dispensing emergency contraception to the students at JMU.

Virginia Young Democrats President Christie Ann McClure issued the following statement Monday:

"Women's reproductive rights are especially crucial on Virginia's college campuses. It is vital that we do everything we can to protect the privacy, safety, and health of all women at our colleges and universities. It is profoundly disturbing that a member of the JMU board of visitors - someone who is coincidentally running for the state Senate with the endorsement of Attorney General Jerry Kilgore - would put a political agenda that promotes radical restrictions on a woman's access to contraceptives ahead of the personal safety and health of women students. This is disappointing and wrong."

"However, those of us who have been observing recent actions by Republicans on college boards relating to equal access and opportunity in admissions and guarantees against discrimination are not surprised that the long arm of the Republican attorney general has reached JMU. It's more clear than

ever that women on our college and university campuses -- indeed, women across Virginia -- must stand together against the hypocrisy of a growing tide of far-right, out-of-the-mainstream thinking that puts our lives in danger and our privacy and reproductive rights at risk."


The Virginia Young Democrats, with headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, is the largest auxiliary Democratic organization in the Commonwealth. It serves Democrats from age 13 to 35 in Virginia's high schools, colleges, cities, and counties.

For Immediate Release Johnalex Golden
April 23, 2003

The Virginia Young Democrats reacted strongly to U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's (R-PA) recent statement concerning the Supreme Court's historic review of sodomy laws.

"Sen. Santorum's comments were unacceptable and an absolute disgrace to his position as a United States Senator," said VYD President Christie Ann McClure. "All Americans should be outraged, but Republicans especially must hold him accountable for what he said if they claim his comments were
not representative of their party."

Santorum's remarks were quoted by the Associated Press in an interview about the Supreme Court's consideration of a Texas sodomy law. During the interview, Santorum said, "And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right
to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

VYD Lambda Caucus Chair Johnalex Golden sharply rebutted the Senator's comparisons, saying, "I am absolutely disgusted by his comments. Bigamy, polygamy, and adultery are all crimes in the context of marriage. They represent one partner's violation of his or her vows to another. For Sen.
Santorum to equate cheating on your spouse to unmarried adults having consensual and monogamous sex is simply ridiculous. Putting police officers in the private bedrooms of our citizens is exactly the kind of 'big government' I would have expected the conservative senator to oppose."

Civil rights groups and political organizations across America have responded to Santorum's comments with shock and dismay.

"It is long past time to end discrimination against GLBT persons in the United States," continued Golden. "It is the responsibility of our leaders to set an example for this country to follow, and Sen. Santorum has failed miserably in this regard. We live in difficult times, and oppression and exclusion are never the answer to our problems. There is absolutely no room for such divisive
statements from our national leaders. I hope the senator will come to understand that every American deserves to enjoy the equal protection of our laws."




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