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Campus Christian law group loses appeal to exclude gays, non-Christians

Too bad, so sad for the Alliance Defense Fund. There’s a reason anti-discrimination laws exist, and the Hastings Christian Fellowship at the UC Hastings College of the Law, doesn’t seem to understand this. The U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that the law school was within its rights to deny recognition and funding to a group that excludes LGBT students and non-Christians.  (SFGate):

The San Francisco law school is entitled to require official student organizations to “accept all comers as members, even if those individuals disagree with the mission of the group,” the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled. It said the school’s policy is “viewpoint-neutral” and does not violate the rights of the Christian Legal Society.

The brief ruling cited the court’s decision last year allowing a Washington state high school to deny recognition to a student Bible club that required members to endorse its religious creed. Last week, the club asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review that case.

Both rulings allow public schools to “require religious organizations to include people in their groups who disagree with what the religious groups believe,” said attorney Jeremy Tedesco of the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization that is involved in both cases on behalf of the student groups. “That’s a violation of the First Amendment, free speech and freedom of religion.”

Ethan Schulman, a lawyer for UC Hastings, said Tuesday’s ruling allows the school to apply its nondiscrimination policy to any group seeking recognition and a share of the funding that goes to organizations from mandatory student fees.

BZZZT. Fail. The ADF had to know this was a losing case — this has nothing to do with freedom of association, or religious freedom — these Christianists just can’t expect the school to support their bigotry with funding, office space and inclusion in official school publications.

Besides, even if the school or the state didn’t have protections that extended to sexual orientation and gender identity, this group runs afoul of federal law by discriminating against non-Christians — that’s an automatic no-no. The Christian Legal Society (the parent org) isn’t a private club.

What is ridiculous is that the Hastings Christian Fellowship did have approval of the school up until 2004, when a new policy set forth by The Christian Legal Society barred those who engaged in “unrepentant homosexual conduct” required all new members to endorse a “statement of faith.” You know the ADF is going to take this one to SCOTUS.

Hat tip to Mike Tidmus, who said:

These anti-gay, Christians-only campus groups are not willing to abide by established non-discrimination policies that cover race, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc, although these non-discrimination policies apply equally to all other groups on campus.

These days, one is unlikely to find a whites-only fraternity or a no-Latinos chess club on any campus in the US. So why should these Christian groups be handed an exemption, not to mention receive official recognition and funding – some of which is derived from fees paid by GLBT and non-Christian students?

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding