The Department of Justice, under the leadership of Biden’s attorney general, Merrick Garland, backtracked in its strong language in defending Title IX’s religious exemption in a court filing. Last week, the department said it intended to “vigorously” defend religious colleges’ beliefs when it comes to LGBTQIA+ issues.
NBC News reported that after backlash from LGBTQIA+ activists, the department removed the word “vigorous” and made several other changes, such as removing the phrase “ultimate objective” mentioned four times in its filing.
Activists also challenged the Biden administration’s alleged hypocrisy on LGBTQIA+ issues because President Joe Biden tweeted support for the Equality Act, which is proposed legislation to enshrine LGBTQIA+ anti-discrimination provisions into law. They said that it is hypocritical for Biden’s administration to defend the religious exemption in Title IX while claiming to be on their side.
The court filing is a part of a lawsuit against the Department of Education filed by 40 LGBTQIA+ students who attended or are attending Christian colleges. The plaintiffs seek to rescind religious colleges’ exemptions under Title IX, which the federal law banning gender and sex discrimination. They claim that the exemption circumvents discrimination law and that Christian colleges either expelled them for their gender identity or failed to investigate harassment complaints.
The aforementioned exemption, in short, protects religious colleges which receive federal funding on discrimination grounds. But, if the plaintiffs had their way, these religious colleges would lose federal funding unless they violate their religious beliefs.
Religious colleges countered and said that they have a constitutional right to defend their religious beliefs under the First Amendment.
NBC News, whose reporting we cited in this article, did not fairly represent both sides of the lawsuit and quoted a source on the side of the plaintiffs’ positions who worked at the LGBTQ advocacy group Lambda Legal.