— Kentucky State University is still standing tall despite the school’s decision to recognize a gay couple for their commitment to a first-ever marriage.
KSU’s announcement Monday that it will recognize and wed David and Melissa Schumann of Louisville, Ky., came in response to a legal challenge by the Kentucky Civil Rights Commission.
It’s a bold move for KSU, which has long had a long-standing tradition of promoting gay rights.
K-State’s announcement came after more than a year of public debate over whether to honor the Schumanns.
The couple has been together since 2003, and have been married since January 2012, when the university’s campus was named the home of the United States.
David Schumann, the university president, said in a statement Monday that the decision is a big victory for the LGBT community, but also a sign that KSU “must make room for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“I know the LGBT students of Kentucky are tired of seeing KSU fall in line with the rest of the nation, and I know they want the same opportunity as anyone else,” he said.
The university’s decision comes after years of pressure from a group of students and faculty who say they were discriminated against by the school.
“Our school has been working hard to ensure the dignity and safety of our students, and this action is a victory for all of us who care about protecting the rights of all of our members, regardless the color of their skin, gender identity or sexual orientation,” said KSU president Joe Arnebeck.
More than 50 percent of Kentucky’s 4,000 K-12 public schools offer sexual orientation and gender identity-based programs.
Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed a bill allowing K-state to recognize same-sex couples in its schools.