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Antigay student legal group sues Southern Illinois University

Antigay student legal group sues Southern Illinois University

A law school student group that requires members to pledge to adhere to conservative Christian beliefs--including a prohibition against homosexuality--has sued Southern Illinois University for refusing to recognize the organization. A chapter of the national Christian Legal Society at the university's law school filed the lawsuit Tuesday in federal court, alleging that school officials violated the group's constitutional rights, including the right to free speech, by revoking its status March 25. The revocation means the group can no longer use the university's facilities or name and is no longer eligible for school funding, according to the lawsuit. A university official said, however, the group can still use campus facilities. The Annandale, Va.-based Christian Legal Society has filed similar lawsuits against other schools, including Arizona State University and the University of California, said the group's attorney, M. Casey Mattox. In revoking the group's status, Southern Illinois University cited violations of school policy that official student organizations must adhere to all federal and state nondiscrimination laws, the lawsuit says. A statement of faith that society members must vow to follow includes, among other prohibitions, "the Bible's prohibition of sexual conduct between persons of the same sex," the lawsuit says. The Christian Legal Society is a nationwide association of Christian lawyers, law students, law professors, and judges with chapters in more than 1,000 cities across the country, Mattox said. He said the university chapter had fewer than 20 members. Law school dean Peter C. Alexander said Wednesday night that he had only just received a copy of the lawsuit and could not comment. The lawsuit seeks an injunction restoring the group's registered status at SIU. It also asks that the school be ordered to pay the group's legal fees. (AP)

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