Following up on my previous post, Christian Student Group Sues University of Iowa, Sparking Debate Over Religious Freedom, LGBT Rights: Courthouse News Service, Judge OKs Christian Group’s Rejection of Gay Student:
A federal judge ruled late Wednesday that the University of Iowa violated a Christian student organization’s rights to free speech and free exercise of religion by stripping the group’s campus privileges after it refused to elect a gay man to a leadership position.
U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose ruled in favor of Business Leaders in Christ, or BLinC, on summary judgment, saying the university discriminated against the group based on its viewpoint by not equally enforcing its human rights policy for student organizations on campus.
The policy forbids student organizations from treating members differently base on “race, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, disability, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, service in the U.S. military, sexual orientation, gender identity, associational preferences, or any other classification that deprives the person of consideration as an individual, and that equal opportunity and access to facilities shall be available to all.”
Judge Rose found that policy is reasonable and viewpoint neutral as written, but it has not been applied equally based on various student groups’ viewpoints.
BLinC was “prevented from expressing its viewpoints on protected characteristics” while other student groups were allowed to espouse different viewpoints, Judge Rose wrote in a 37-page order.
Citing a student group called Love Works, which supports gay rights, Rose wrote: “The university allows Love Works to limit leadership to individuals who share its religious beliefs on homosexuality. But BLinC may not.”
“That is viewpoint discrimination,” she wrote.