The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a major case testing whether state colleges and universities can deny official status and subsidies to student groups that bar homosexuals and other groups from membership.
The key issue with this case is really this: Can a religious group protect its own, self defined “rights” by barring membership of people that it considers inappropriate, which may include, for instance, gay people who may be considered unclean, or the minions of the antiChrist, or whatever.
Interestingly, this is NOT a cased where a disadvantaged or suppressed group is trying to get unsuppressed. This is a case of a Christian group at an “all comers” college, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco … a college where you can have a student group only if you allow all to join it … is claiming that they need the right to not allow any gays, or students of any sexual orientation who are pre-maritally sexually active, to join their group.
This is also a case of a shift in social policy. This particular christian group has existed for a long time, but suddenly grew this extra obnoxious set of “morals” and changed their policy. Also, significantly, the new rules are implemented using a “statement of faith” so, in a sense, such statements are on trial in a small way as well.
The Christian Legal Society has long had a Hastings chapter that was recognized as a registered student organization, but in 2004, the group affiliated with the national Christian Legal Society and changed its policy to exclude from membership homosexuals and those who advocate or participate in pre-marital sex.
“When we did that, the director of student services said that the statement of faith in our bylaws violated their rules against discrimination on the basis of religion and sexual orientation,” says Isaac Fong, a former chairman of the campus Christian Legal Society.
The full story reported by Nina Totenberg is here. Audio podcast of the story is here. Maybe. (I can’t guarnatee that podcast link will work for you, but you can go to the previously cited link, the web page, and get to the audio story that way.)
H/T: Nancy W.