A federal judge today upheld Eastern Michigan University's dismissal of a graduate student who refused to "affirm homosexuality" when counseling gay students. Julea Ward's case has been a hot topic on Christianist and rightwing blogs, who maintain hers is just the latest in the homofascist campaign to stifle anti-gay dissent at the nation's universities.
In an order granting summary judgment to the university on Monday, Judge George Caram Steeh of the U.S. District Court in Detroit held that the university's requirement that the student be willing to serve people who are homosexual was reasonable, and did not amount to an infringement of the Christian student's constitutional rights to free speech and free expression of religion. The university "had a right and duty to enforce compliance" with professional ethics rules barring counselors from being intolerant or engaging in discrimination, and no reasonable person could conclude that a counseling program's requirement that students comply with such rules "conveys a message endorsing or disapproving of religion," Judge Steeh wrote.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a coalition of Christian lawyers that is helping to represent the student, Julea Ward, issued a statement on Tuesday saying it plans to appeal the judge's decision. "Christian students shouldn't be expelled for holding to and abiding by their beliefs," said David French, a senior counsel for the group, which helped out in a similar lawsuit filed against Augusta State University, in Georgia, this month.
Last year Ward refused to treat a suicidal gay student, telling fellow counselors that her religious views prevented her from helping him feel better about himself. Ward plans to become a high school counselor, if anybody will have her after this.