WENHAM — Gordon College President Michael Lindsay says the intent of a controversial letter to President Obama has been “misconstrued” and that “nothing has changed” in the college’s hiring or admission practices for gays and lesbians.
“I feel badly that this has resulted in confusion, hurt feelings and disappointment among the Gordon community, which was not what I intended,” Lindsay wrote in a “personal message” posted on the college’s website.
The letter, dated July 1, asked Obama to include a religious exemption to an executive order that would ban organizations from signing federal contracts if they discriminate against gays and lesbians in their hiring practices. It was signed by the leaders of 14 religious and civic organizations, including Lindsay, who has been president of the Christian liberal arts college since 2011.
The letter has sparked an online petition asking Lindsay to rescind the request. The petition had more than 2,700 signatures as of Tuesday, according to Moveon.org Petitions.
Brian Boyd, a 1988 Gordon College graduate who started the petition, said he plans to send it to Lindsay on Wednesday.
“I think the number (of signatures) is substantial, and I think it’s enough for him to pay attention and to at least address it publicly,” said Boyd, who lives in Texas.
A spokesman for Gordon College said Lindsay was heading on a previously scheduled 10-day trip to China and was not available for an interview. The college posted Lindsay’s message on its website and emailed it to students and alumni late Monday night.
In the message, Lindsay said he signed the letter to Obama because Gordon College is an “explicitly Christian institution (that) should set the conduct expectations for members of our community.” He said the letter asks for the same sort of religious exemption that President Bush included in a 2002 executive order.