Written by Steve Cannon for USSA News.
A federal judge in Oregon has dismissed a lawsuit from a group of 40 LGBT+ individuals against the U.S. Education Department challenging a Title IX exemption that allows religious colleges to receive federal funding even if they do not adhere to the civil rights law’s prohibition on sex-based discrimination by holding traditional religious beliefs on sexuality and gender.
Oregon-based U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken wrote Thursday that “the religious exemption does not aim at the suppression of speech” and it is “substantially related to the government’s objective of protecting religious exercise.”
The plaintiffs, current and former LGBT+ students who said they faced discrimination at religious colleges, “have submitted no allegations of discriminatory motivation on the part of those enacting the religious exemption,” the judge wrote. According to the judge, the group “failed to demonstrate” numerous things, such as a way their complaints could be set right, that Congress had any discriminatory motivations when enacting the exemption or that their due process rights were violated.
This ruling has sparked outrage in the LGBT+ community, with many feeling that their rights and voices are being ignored. Rachel Held, one of the student plaintiffs, said, “It’s frustrating that the Court has enough sense to know we’ve been hurt and impacted but still won’t do anything to prevent this discrimination from continuing to happen.”
This ruling sets a precedent for the continued funding of religious colleges that hold traditional values and beliefs, even if they discriminate against certain groups of people. The plaintiffs are considering an appeal, and the fight for equal rights and protections for the LGBT+ community is far from over. This is a critical moment for the nation, as it raises important questions about the separation of church and state, the protection of religious freedom, and the defense of marginalized communities.