Christian group sues Ohio State for right to exclude gays

A Christian legal association has sued Ohio State University, saying the school hasn't recognized its chapter's right to exclude gays. In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Columbus, the Christian Legal Society says the university violated its free-speech rights because it didn't settle the issue in a timely fashion. The Fairfax, Va., society is an association of Christian lawyers, academics, and students. The Ohio State chapter had sought an exemption from the university's nondiscrimination policy because it's a religious organization. "The university has not kept to their word that they would reach a resolution
at the end of a 90-day period," said Michael Berry, a student from Dallas and the chapter's president. Berry said gays can join the society but not if they engage in "acts of sexual immorality." No students have been denied membership in the 14-member group, but no gay students have tried to join, Berry said. It holds a weekly Bible study and discussion.

The university has allowed the group to continue with its membership policy at least temporarily, and it gave the group the same $500 in operating funds that all sanctioned student groups receive for the school year. "We are disappointed that, in spite of these ongoing efforts, the group elected to file a lawsuit," Ohio State spokeswoman Elizabeth Conlisk said in a statement. A gay rights student group called the Outlaws complained last year to the university about the society's membership policy. Steven H. Aden, chief attorney for the Center for Law and Religious Freedom, based in Fairfax, Va., said court rulings have upheld that religious groups are exempt from provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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