St. Joe’s Says No to Lesbian Couple

They entered a Valentine's Day contest only to be rejected because of their sexual orientation

UPDATE: The university posted the couple’s submission onto the contest page as of this afternoon.

The Saint Joseph’s University (SJU) Alumni Association recently launched a Facebook competition called “How I Met My Hawkmate.” In this competition, current Hawkmates (a couple who both attended the Jesuit school) are asked to submit a picture and a short story about how they met. The couple whose picture gets the most “likes” by Valentine’s Day wins a $100 gift certificate.

The happy couple (courtesy of Megan Edwards and Katie MacTurk)

Sounds like a great way to celebrate alumni, right? Not so for Megan Edwards and Katie MacTurk – both local SJU grads who found themselves banned from the competition because the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

“Katie and I were encouraged by several friends to submit our picture and story to the competition,” says Edwards in an online post. “As recently engaged Hawkmates, we thought it would be wonderful to share our news and story with the SJU community, of which we are so proud to be a part of.”

So they emailed the SJU Alumni Association on Thursday, Jan. 26, eagerly awaiting their story to be included online. Here’s what they shared for the contest:

“For our first three years at SJU, Katie took her classes in Post or Bellarmine, while Meg was camped out in Barbelin; Katie spent her free time at the Fieldhouse or on the river with the crew team, while Meg was in Campion, Wolfington, or on some service trip. But, despite our best efforts to go our entire college career completely oblivious to each other’s existence, we finally met in our senior year through a friend and classmate at SJU. We somehow remained inseparable our senior year in spite of Katie’s demanding crew schedule and Meg’s involvement in nearly every other activity on campus. Since graduation, we have built our life together in Philadelphia and loved every minute of it. We were engaged this past October and are looking forward to our wedding in 2013!”

Not only does the story fulfill all the requirements, but it’s a testimony to the camaraderie at the school – something alumni groups usually dream about. The school paper even wrote about the couple in 2009.

But four days after the couple entered the contest, the women noticed that their photo still wasn’t featured on Facebook.

“We decided to email the Alumni Association to make sure they received everything,” says Edwards. “Once again, days went by and we heard nothing – and we continued to watch other Hawksmates’ pictures and stories being posted for the competition. Nearly a week after our submission, Katie called the Alumni Association and left them a voicemail.”

They later found out that the school rejected their submission – they say it’s because they’re gay.

“We learned that the Alumni Association had discussed our submission,” says Edwards, “and inevitably decided not to post our submission because the Catholic Church does not recognize same-sex marriage.”

Despite the 10 years the women mutually studied at SJU, the hundreds of thousands of dollars they’ve paid in tuition dollars over that decade, not to mention the countless hours dedicated to student life, it’s as though they ceased to exist. “To them,” says Edwards, “we are not Hawkmates.”

So the couple decided to use Facebook to strike back and publicize what happened. The SJU Alumni page has since been inundated with comments supporting the couple, and asking that the school treat all students and grads equally.

“Our alma mater – where we spent some of the best years of our lives, where we learned who we are and what we are capable of, where we met friends, professors, coaches (not to mention a wonderful fiancée) who would change our lives for the better – told us that we are not really fully part of the SJU community,” says Edwards in the post. “Words cannot express the disappointment and sadness we felt after hearing this.”

SJU’s Alumni Association can be reached by clicking here.