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US Christian student group fights for right to ban gays

Jessica Geen December 8, 2009
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A Christian student group based at a California law school is fighting to the right to bar gay students.

UC Hastings College of Law has withdrawn recognition of the group unless it changes its discriminatory rules.

Five years ago, the group, which is a San Francisco chapter of the Christian Legal Society, decided to bar those who adhere to a “sexually immoral lifestyle” which they say includes gays and lesbians.

The school then withdrew its official status as a student group, it is not entitled to use reserved meeting rooms and members cannot claim travel costs to attend national meetings.

The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to hear the Christian group’s case after a court of appeal ruled in the college’s case in March.

The university bans discrimination based on “race, colour, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, sex or sexual orientation” in all of its programmes.

It also has a policy that anyone should be allowed to join a group, regardless of whether they agree what the group’s mission statement.

The law school’s lawyers claim that if it is forced to recognise the Christian group, it may also be forced to recognise extremist hate groups on campus.

But the Christian Legal Society’s lawsuit contends that the law school’s actions are unconstitutional and violate the student group’s rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment.

A Supreme Court ruling on the case is expected in June.

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