ACLU May Sue Grand Canyon on Same-Sex Benefits

September 3, 2015

Grand Canyon University has received a letter from the Arizona branch of the American Civil Liberties Union about the for-profit institution's policy regarding employee benefits and same-sex spouses, according to a column in The Arizona Republic.

The university is a Christian-based institution. The letter from the ACLU Arizona legal director states, "On behalf of Grand Canyon University employees who have contacted our office about their denial of health insurance and other employee benefits based solely on their marriage to a person of the same sex … the denial of benefits to LGBT employees in same-sex marriages is in violation of federal law and severely harms those employees and their families."

The university is examining its policies.

"We are also proud of our record with regards to the diversity of both our student body and our employee base. To this point, like many employers, we have not provided marital benefits to same-sex partners. In light of recent Supreme Court and [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] rulings, we are currently evaluating those policies as part of our plan," said Bob Romantic, executive director of GCU's communications office, in an email.

GCU has been exploring a change in its status to a nonprofit institution. Last year, the university's chief executive officer incorporated a nonprofit organization, dubbed Gazelle University. And last month, documents were filed with the Internal Revenue Service to allow Gazelle to acquire GCU's real estate, which would allow the university to make that transition.

Some nonprofit Christian colleges fear they may lose their tax-exempt status by refusing to extend benefits to employees in same-sex relationships, although many others do not expect such a challenge.

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