Private Christian colleges would be excepted from local and state non-discrimination laws under a proposed amendment to the Higher Education Act - a move that would allow the schools to legally reject LGBT students.
The amendment, proposed by Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah), would prevent accrediting boards from making adherence to non-discrimination laws a requirement.
The measure passed the House last week and is currently before the Senate
Brigham Young, University of Notre Dame, Baylor, Pepperdine and Samford universities have all been lobbying heavily for passage of the bill.
Although few boards specifically make adherence to non-discrimination laws a requirement for accreditation the schools say they want assurances they will not be targeted in the future.
"This is really a pre-emptive move on the part of these schools," BYU spokesperson Carri Jenkins told the Deseret Morning News.
Pressure from the school has increased as a result of the Soulforce Equality Ride, a cross country protest of universities and colleges that do not permit gays to enroll.
Last week 30 riders were arrested over two days of demonstrations at BYU, which is affiliated with the Mormon Church.
The Equality Ride began last month in Washington D.C.. Riders have been arrested at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma (story); Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia (story) which is affiliated with Christian Broadcaster Pat Robertson; and at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. (story).
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
A modest proposal.... How about the federal government allows these schools to discriminate against gays, but then allows public and private businesses, government organizations, schools, etc. to discriminate against students who have graduated from these schools? That seems like it might be a fair exchange. If the schools in question are allowed the exception to nondiscrimination laws, why not maintain an equitable consistency (let's even call it "soulforce equality") and allow potential employers to discriminate for whatever reason they wish against graduates of such schools? Then we could see where priorities lie and the extent to which religious exceptionalism in a constitutionally secular society and pluralistic nation holds up. [Link via Raw Story].