Hundreds of students at the University of Florida (UF) disrupted a forum for Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, the only current contender for the school’s next president, with protests Monday over a previous statement he made regarding a same-sex marriage law.
“The Supreme Court once again overstepped its Constitutional role by acting as a super-legislature and imposing its own definition of marriage on the American people rather than allowing voters to decide in the states,” Sasse said in a 2015 statement in opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision to enshrine same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. The Nebraska Republican is reportedly retiring from Congress to pursue a career in academia, according to a former aide.
Protesters flooded a university building Monday during a forum in which Sasse was slated to answer questions from students, according to numerous videos shared online. Most of their signs offered vague condemnations of Sasse, but common themes were accusations of homophobia and complaints about him being a Republican.
“700 candidates and u pick a homophobe,” one protester’s sign read. Another student waved a large rainbow flag.
Sasse has not formally been offered the job yet, and he had several private meetings with UF leadership as well as public forums were planned on UF’s campus Monday, according to the Florida Alligator. UF announced Thursday that Sasse was the sole finalist.
Sasse left the room at least 15 minutes early, at which point at least 300 protesters stormed the room, yelling accusations of racism and homophobia, according to the Florida Alligator. The next forum, which was meant to be for UF staff, was moved to a different room and broadcasted over projectors without an in-person audience.
Outside Sen. Ben Sasse’s moderated forum to meet with students, hundreds have gathered protesting Sasse as the sole finalist in UF’s presidential search, citing his previous public statements on same-sex marriage and the search sealed from the public among reasons. pic.twitter.com/Uay2bQIbEf— Divya Kumar (@divyadivyadivya) October 10, 2022
Protesters could be seen pouring out of an overflowing building: they filled the area just outside the forum room, a hallway, the large indoor staircase, the entryway and the courtyard outside the building. Many of them carried signs with simple slogans such as “Sasse sucks.”
Sasse and the University of Florida declined to comment.
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