Chicago’s Loyola University Bans Gay Wedding Ceremonies As Marriage Equality Begins in Illinois

As Illinois’ marriage equality law begins to take effect this year, Loyola University in Chicago has adopted an official policy that bans same-sex couples from marrying on campus grounds. DNAinfo Chicago reports:

LoyolaThe policy, enacted in December, allows only Catholic-sanctioned weddings — between a man and a woman — at the school's iconic Madonna della Strada Chapel in Rogers Park [pictured right]. All other ceremonies would be forbidden campuswide, university officials said.

The move undermined the hope of students and alumni who wanted the university to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies on campus grounds after the state Legislature passed the same-sex marriage law last year.

The state's first same-sex couples were officially married Friday.

"I was extremely disappointed because that policy is not reflective of the Loyola that I know," said Michael Jarecki, 35, who's gay and graduated from Loyola in 2001. "To me, this seems like two steps backwards."

Windy City Times notes that Loyola's religious affiliation and mission affords the university exemptions granted under the equal-marriage law, which states that religious organizations are not required to provide their facilities for wedding ceremonies and receptions. 

However, the law's definition of "religious facilities" states that educational facilities are not exempt and with the school's standing as both a religious organization and an educational institution, there could be room for interpretation based on how the law is worded. A way around this would be for the school to argue that the wedding and reception venues offered by the university aren't necessarily used for educational purposes. 


  1. Ted says

    “The policy, enacted in December, allows only Catholic-sanctioned weddings — between a man and a woman…” So, where do you go to be genetically tested to verify that your sex is either male or female? (God sometimes screws up and will create someone who is both.)

    I’m wondering how they will handle the marriage of m/f couple who where both previously married.

  2. Joe in Ct says

    This (not surprising) decision may disappoint some people, but until the Catholic church changes its position, it is entirely withing their rights to pass on marrying same sex couples. Choose a church that welcomes you.

  3. Continuum says

    Is it a chapel that only permits Catholic weddings?

    Do they allow protestant weddings, mormon weddings, civil weddings? Do they permit the chapel to be used for other than religious ceremonies? Do they rent it out to non-religious organizations for secular functions?

    If so, then the Catholic religious exemption is on shaky grounds.

    However, if only Catholics in good standing may use the facility for weddings, then Loyola is probably within its rights.

  4. Gregory In Seattle says

    I can understand them not permitting same-sex weddings in the churches and chapels on campus: those fall under the jurisdiction of the bishop.

    Banning such weddings on the school campus, even in areas like the Student Union? Nope. They can try declaring the school itself to be a religious institution, but then they will lose all sorts of government funding. And if they have ever allowed Buddhist, Jewish or some other form of non-Catholic wedding, then they themselves have set the precedent of allowing weddings that do not adhere to Catholic doctrine.

  5. Nick says

    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    The Catholic church knows better than Jesus!

  6. disgusted american says

    well I say – who needs thier Voodoo Factorys anyways…? A Justice of the Peace, or LGBT Affirming religious institution will do just fine…..F them!

  7. CPT_Doom says

    I do hope all straight, ally, alums also refuse to use their venues for their weddings and that gay caterers, wedding planners, florists and other vendors will take note of the restrictions. It has been a while since I was still Catholic, but it seems to me that if you only allow church-sanctioned weddings, that shouldn’t include those that use the dirty gays for any part of the ceremony.

  8. JJ says

    “I was extremely disappointed because that policy is not reflective of the Loyola that I know,” said Michael Jarecki, 35, who’s gay and graduated from Loyola in 2001

    The Catholic Church is really a wondrous invention if you want to take a society and distill out pedophiles and extraordinarily stupid gays.

  9. Ben in Oakland says

    Frankly, I don’t care, and neither should anyone else.

    When a few students who want to get married at the alma mater start complaining and stop making donations, they may change their mind.

  10. Lucas H says

    Not a big deal. It’s a catholic university, I would have been surprised if it DID perform same-sex marriages. This is not a fight I would like to see picked.

  11. Ready says

    Fine with me – but they better be consistent. No divorced people marrying, no Jews, Muslims, Protestants getting married there either. No non-virgins, etc. If you are only going to exclude same sex partners and not every other couple who violates some tenet of the Catholic religion, then it is just discrimination.

  12. pc says

    i taught there for a year in the late 90’s and attended a work holiday party full of jesuit priests – where i’ve never been cruised on so hard before in my life. the young priests there were so gay and obviously sexual. hypocrites.

  13. says

    Thank you for this report and helping me make a more informed decision about where I will attend law school this fall. I have emailed Loyola Chicago and pulled my application.

    RE: Application Rescinded

    Dear Dean Yellen and Members of the Admissions Committee:

    My name is David Valk and I intended to apply to Loyola University Chicago School of Law for the Class of 2017.

    I learned this morning that Loyola Chicago discriminates against gay and lesbian couples and will not perform same-sex marriages on-campus.

    My goal is to attend a law school that will help me grow as a public servant and provide me an education grounded in the advancement of social justice. Your university’s policies do not reflect these values.

    I have deleted my application from Law School Admission Council and will encourage my peers to do the same.


    David Valk

  14. Chitown Kev says

    As a Loyola graduate, I have to ask how is this even a surprise; they are a Catholic institution.

    And as a graduate of the class of 2006, I will agree that this is NOT the Loyola that I know…there were plenty of gays and a gay student group when I was there but I’m not about to get worked up over this.

  15. woody says

    they were already within their rights not to allow a gay wedding in their chapel, so the university only announced this policy to make a point.
    they didn’t have to go out of their way to announce their hate, but they chose to.
    guesses as to why?

  16. Sean says

    Does it receive state and/or federal funding? If it does then the property partially belongs to LGBT citizens therefore it cannot and will be allowed to ban anybody. Legal fact. Either respect that or return a portion of your tax payer funded paycheck to each and every LGBT citizen in Illinois that has pail taxes.

  17. BobN says

    If they’re banning everything but weddings conducted by a Catholic priest, fine, but I’ve grown so accustomed to outright lying by the Church that I have to wonder if “Catholic-sanctioned” is just another example of purposeful deception.

    David Valk, assuming no additional cost or great effort on your part, you should have waited until they accepted you, then declined. Always make ’em want you first. :-)

  18. enchantra says

    I hate to disappoint you folks who think it matter if the church has allowed other kinds of marriages in the past. The Boy Scouts decision makes it clear that a religious organization neither has to make decisions which conform to history and tradition nor does it even mean that their use of the language has to conform to a common understanding of meaning. In short, they can make it up as they go along.

    And screw them anyway.

  19. Cindy Jenkins says

    I don’t have a problem with this. It is a religious institution and they have their beliefs and their rights. However, in a civil ceremony they should have no vote or say. Civil is just that civil, nothing to do with anyone’s religion or belief. That in my humble opinion is where the lines are becoming blurred and being crossed. I won’t stand in your way or your religious beliefs and you should not stand in the way of my civil beliefs or rights….it is just that simple.

  20. AJ says

    I really don’t see why anyone is surprised. Loyola is about as Catholic in name only as they come, but even they can only go so far when it comes to the Vatican and its doctrine.

    What is interesting though is how the school changed its policy. They used to allow all weddings that were legal in the state of Illinois on their properties (just not the chapel), but now only Catholic ceremonies can be held on the campus with receptions of any kind (gay or straight) still being allowed. Considering how religiously diverse Loyola’s student body is, I’m frankly surprised there hasn’t been more uproar in that regard yet.

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