Interesting Questions

December 28, 2004

The Arizona State University chapter of the Christian Legal Society is in hot water over its policy to exclude from membership or leadership positions non-Christians and homosexuals. The group claims that it’s constitutional rights of Free Association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments afford it the right to determine its own membership, analogous to the Boy Scouts situation.

This is a specifically Christian group whose members must sign a statement of faith, which is reportedly akin to the Apostles’ Creed. Ohio State Univerity officials reportedly backed down in a similar situation after the Society challenged its refusal to recognize it.

The University has refused to recognize (and make eligible for funding) the Society based on its “discriminatory” policies.

According to the Chicago Tribune:

“They are forcing taxpayers to underwrite discrimination,” said David Tseng, a Washington attorney who has specialized in non-discrimination law. “The endorsement of discrimination is appalling,” he said.

Tseng, formerly executive director of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, said the use of public money was the crucial factor and that tax money should be spent to advance the public good.

I find this an interesting framing of a philosophical and legal issue. This attorney is arguing that the public good would be thwarted by recognition of the group. He obviously only views the issue through anti-discrimination lenses. But what about the constitutional rights and liberties of those who choose to preserve the integrity of their own organization? Shouldn’t they be allowed to set their own membership rules, especially when to allow certain members would contradict their core beliefs? And what about their view of the public good, which they doubtlessly believe would be enhanced by the recognition of their group with their membership policies remaining intact? I also find it curious that a non-Christian or homosexual would want to be part of a group that seeks to exclude them. Surely this is a trumped up challenge based on an articifical conflict for the purpose of further compelling our society to accept anti-Christian norms.

These types of conflicts are inevitable when the government’s financial tentacles permeate so much of what we do. If no public funding were involved this would hardly be newsworthy, much less legally significant. Or would it?

But you have to admit that the homosexual lobby has done a remarkable job couching their cause in terms of “rights” and “discrimination.” Despite the setbacks they sustain from time to time, including the major one in eleven states in November with the unanimous rejection of gay marriage, they will continue undeterred trying to elevate sexual orientation to the highest constitutionally protected class. To the extent they succeed, I would argue that the public good — contrary to their protestations — will NOT be advanced. While I think homosexuals should be treated with respect and civility I do not think society should accept homosexuality as the norm, no matter how much bullying the homosexual lobby engages in.