A New York State judge has ruled that Yeshiva University must recognize the YU Pride Alliance as an official student group.
The alliance, for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer students, has been fighting for recognition for several years. Yeshiva argued that as a religious organization, it is exempt from the New York City Human Rights Law, which bars discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Judge Lynn R. Kotler ruled that “at first blush, the answer to this question may seem obvious,” given Yeshiva’s “proud and rich Jewish heritage.”
But Kotler ruled that Yeshiva’s organizing documents do not describe a religious institution but an “educational corporation.” And she cited a 1995 document in which a Yeshiva official said the university was governed by New York City law. She noted that Yeshiva’s lawyers said the university would be happy to change its charter, but she said that offer “concedes the point.” And Yeshiva applies for state grants as a “not-for-profit institution of higher education.”
She ordered Yeshiva to provide YU Pride with “the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges” of all student groups.
Yeshiva vowed to appeal.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, the university said, “The court’s ruling violates the religious liberty upon which this country was founded. The decision permits courts to interfere in the internal affairs of religious schools, hospitals, and other charitable organizations. Any ruling that Yeshiva is not religious is obviously wrong. As our name indicates, Yeshiva University was founded to instill Torah values in its students while providing a stellar education, allowing them to live with religious conviction as noble citizens and committed Jews. While we love and care for our students, who are all—each and every one—created in God’s image, we firmly disagree with today’s ruling and will immediately appeal the decision.”