Five years since it appeared on campus, the gay fraternity at Arizona State University has become the first national, collegiate-based organization of its kind in the country.
Sigma Phi Beta’s creation and adoption of a national charter last week raises hopes for gay college students that new chapters will be established at other campuses.
Sam Holdren, president and chairman of Sigma Phi Beta, said: "We definitely want to expand so that we can get other students at other universities the same opportunities that we’ve gotten for ourselves."
Holdren said that no one voiced any opposition to making Sigma Phi Beta a national organization. It has about 25 members at ASU, from freshmen to graduate students.
"I don’t anticipate having any opposition when we start at other colleges and universities," Holdren said.
However, the fact that the fraternity gets all the benefits of being a universityrecognized organization is rubbing the right wing the wrong way.
Last November, the Alliance Defense Fund sued ASU, demanding that the institution recognize a campus chapter of the Christian Legal Society, a conservative, religious-based organization for attorneys, law students and others in the legal field.
The society describes itself on its Web site as "a national grass roots network of lawyers and law students committed to proclaiming, loving and serving Jesus Christ, through all we do in the practice of law, and by advocating biblical conflict reconciliation, public justice, religious freedom and the sanctity of human life."
Nearly 120,000 law students are members, and more than 150 law schools have chapters.
ASU does not support the group, arguing that it prohibits discrimination on campus.
Jeremy Tedesco, an attorney for the Scottsdale-based Alliance Defense Fund, said the organization believes ASU is attacking religious-focused groups such as the Christian Legal Society while supporting organizations such as Sigma Phi Beta which have an exclusive membership chosen according to whether they share certain characteristics and values.
"It’s hypocrisy," Tedesco said. "The problem that’s occurring on campuses across the U.S., including Arizona State University, is that they’re prohibiting formation of religious groups."