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Commission says New York Medical College can discriminate against gay group

Commission says New York Medical College can discriminate against gay group

New York Medical College, which refused to sanction a gay student group, is exempt from Westchester County's antidiscrimination law because of its connection to the Roman Catholic Church, the county's human rights commission has ruled. The ruling means the school cannot be fined or ordered to recognize the student group. Alison Greene, executive director of the commission, said it had received documents from the medical school proving its affiliation with the New York archdiocese in 1978. This means that the commission does have not jurisdiction over the matter, Greene wrote in a letter to the college. She urged the college to rethink its decision anyway. The college, founded in 1860 and based in Valhalla, was criticized in January by county executive Andrew Spano for its refusal to approve an organization called Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender People in Medicine. The county health commissioner, Joshua Lipsman, former executive director of New York's Gay Men's Health Crisis, resigned from his teaching positions at the college to protest the decision. The student group said its purpose was to advocate for better health care for GLBT people, but Ralph O'Connell, provost and dean of the college, said, "It was clear that the organization and its leader would advocate and promote activities inconsistent with the values of NYMC.... The college retains the right to set policies, practices, and procedures in a manner that preserves its rights, character, and identity as a health sciences university in the Catholic tradition." Waldemar Comas, the school's vice president and general counsel, said Wednesday that the decision "recognizes our relationship with the archdiocese and the fact that we are a health sciences university in the Catholic tradition. It's important to recognize, however, that we do not and never have discriminated in admissions, programs, or employment." Susan Tolchin, Spano's chief adviser, said he would decide by the end of the week whether to end the county's participation in joint programs with the college, such as internships.

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