The University of Iowa revoked the official status of a Christian student club, the Business Leaders in Christ, after it declined to promote an openly gay member to its leadership. The student group said it was within its rights to do so, as the action would violate their Christian beliefs on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. But, the student was still a member of the club, though not in a leadership role.
Inside Higher Ed has the story. The executive board of the club wrote an e-mail to the student which stated, “First and foremost, the reason why I made the decision that I could not allow you to be in a leadership position within [the group] is because of your desire to pursue a homosexual lifestyle/relationship.”
The student went to the university almost a year later, while remaining in the club, and the university revoked the club’s official status because the club did not have a human rights and anti-discrimination clause in its constitution. In other words, the University of Iowa unfairly applied their policy to the Business Leaders in Christ student group.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-profit legal counsel group, represented the Business Leaders in Christ in court, and won the case. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) also filed an amicus, or friend of the court, brief on BLIC’s behalf. The court’s judge said that “it appears a large number of student organizations were operating in violation of the university’s state policies at the time the University revoked [Business Leaders in Christ]’s registered student organization status.” Judge Stephanie Rose pointed out that the University of Iowa did not explain why they singled out the student group over others.
The university admitted that there were 369 groups that lacked the same clause, and gave them a new deadline to include the clause in their student group constitutions within six months. When at least 30 of those groups did not comply, the university revoked those clubs’ official statuses.