‘We think that’s unlikely that courts would accept these kinds of arguments because they’re weak claims. But they’re dangerous…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) Fuller Theological Seminary and two students who were expelled for their homosexual marriages are at the center of a lawsuit that could determine whether the nation prioritizes religious liberty or non-discrimination laws.
In a complaint submitted on Jan. 7, Nathan Brittsan, a minister for the American Baptist Churches USA, joined the lawsuit of Joanna Maxon, another former student who sued FTS for discrimination, Christianity Today reported.
Brittsan and Maxon’s lawsuit, which is believed to be the first in the nation that pits religious liberty against protections for homosexual couples, alleges that FTS violated the federal government’s Title IX provision that prohibits discrimination based on sex.
Title IX has traditionally been interpreted to mean that federally funded institutions cannot discriminate against a person based on their biological sex.
Both Brittsan and Maxon are seeking more than $1 million in damages.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a group that defended Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court, represents FTS in the lawsuit.
“The claims here are dangerous for faith-based institutions,” said Becket Fund attorney Daniel Blomberg.
“If the court was to accept them, then they would be harmful to religious groups of all backgrounds and particularly minority religious groups that have beliefs that the majority and the surrounding communities might find unpopular,” he said. “… We think that’s unlikely that courts would accept these kinds of arguments because they’re weak claims. But they’re dangerous.”
Paul Southwick, the attorney who represents Brittsan and Maxon, argued that this case could force the nation to recognize that Title IX applies to LGBT people.
“It’s a very important case at this time in our nation’s history,” he said. “This case could set an important legal precedent that if an educational institution receives federal funding, even if it’s religiously affiliated, even if it’s a seminary, that it’s required to comply with Title IX prohibitions on sex discrimination as applied to LGBT individuals.”