Dispute on Group That Blocked Gay Leader

December 14, 2017

The University of Iowa will no longer recognize a campus Christian group after it refused to give a gay student a leadership position.

In response, Business Leaders in Christ sued the university this week, alleging the institution violated state law and the group members’ constitutional rights. The federal lawsuit states that Iowa told the organization to change its statement of faith to comply with university policy.

Last year, a student complained to the university that he was denied the vice presidency of the group because he was gay. The group claims it was not discriminating against him and that he could keep his membership, but that to be a leader, the student needed to abide by certain religious beliefs that did not include same-sex relationships.

"This is 2017, not 1984," Jacob Estell, president of Business Leaders in Christ, said in a statement. "Our beliefs weren’t made by us, and they can’t be changed by us, either -- certainly not just to satisfy Orwellian government rules."

The university has said the organization infringed on both internal policy and state law.

"The University of Iowa recently found Business Leaders in Christ violated the UI’s Human Rights Policy and the Iowa Civil Rights Act," a university statement said. "Membership and participation in the organization must be open to all students without regard to 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."

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that colleges can limit and revoke official recognition to student groups that operate under biased rules.

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