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Do university rules discriminate against student faith groups?

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Among other obligations, CLS members must pledge that they will not engage in a “sexually immoral lifestyle,” including “all acts of sexual conduct outside God’s design for marriage between one man and one woman.” Failure to live by this standard disqualifies an individual from becoming a voting CLS member.

School officials view the pledge as discrimination based on religion and sexual orientation.

CLS members view it as a pillar of their faith.

“To forbid groups to form on the basis of shared beliefs is to forbid freedom of association at its most fundamental level,” writes Stanford Law Professor Michael McConnell in his brief on behalf of the CLS.

'Policy targets religious groups'

“The policy targets solely those groups whose beliefs are based on ‘religion’ or that disapprove of a particular kind of sexual behavior,” Mr. McConnell says. “Groups committed to other viewpoints are free to select their leaders from among members who support their purposes and core beliefs.”

McConnell says the non-discrimination policy is “explicitly viewpoint discriminatory.” It only applies to religious beliefs, leaving all other groups with political, social, or cultural ideals or beliefs free to select like-minded members and leaders.

Hastings officials reject charges that their non-discrimination policy is itself discriminatory. They say the policy requires all student groups to be open to all students – period.

Under this policy, school officials say, a Republican would have a right to become a voting member of the Democratic Club; the Clara Foltz Feminist Association must accept male chauvinists as voting members and potential leaders; and the antiabortion student group could not exclude students who support abortion rights.

Lawyers for the college say the school’s non-discrimination policy does not violate the free speech or association rights of religious students.

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