Monday, May 09, 2016

The 3 - May 8, 2016

This week's edition of The 3, highlighting 3 recent stories of relevance to the Christian community, includes a number of Christian schools who have been highlighted because of their policies regarding sexuality.  Also, Alabama's Chief Justice is under fire because of his actions consistent with a Biblical worldview on sexuality.  And, the Federal government issued an ultimatum on the North Carolina transgender bathroom law.

3 - U.S. Department of Education releases list of colleges and universities seeking exemption from LGBT-friendly policies

In 1972, the Federal government enacted what is known as Title IX, that was intended to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex, according to a WORLD Magazine story, which points out that for years, the law was used primarily to give women equal access to intercollegiate sports.  But, in 2014, without a Congressional action, the Department of Education expanded the definition to include gender identity.   As a result, schools need to accommodate men who identify as women—granting them access to female housing or even permission to compete on female sports teams if they choose.

And, this past week, the U.S. Department of Education publicly released a list of Christian schools who are seeking Title IX exemptions over their views on transgenderism, as the WORLD piece says, "placing the spotlight on each college and university seeking to hold true to a biblical worldview on gender and sexuality."  Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, one of the schools on the list, is quoted as saying: “Yes, we filed for the exemption and we are proud of it,” adding, "nothing will change for us. We are compliant with a biblical worldview and to do anything else would be false advertising for our students."

The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), which represents 152 North American institutions, responded by saying that the list merely affirms which schools are taking advantage of provisions already laid out by lawmakers. In a statement, the CCCU said, "The real story is why some are trying to penalize religious colleges for simply following the law."

The Christian Post reports that as of April 1, as many as 232 colleges have obtained exemption from Title IX while 31 requests are pending, according to the list posted on the education depaartment's website on Friday, April 29.  The article reports that, "The religious exemption states: 'Title IX does not apply to an educational institution that is controlled by a religious organization to the extent that application of Title IX would be inconsistent with the religious tenets of the organization.'"  The article points out that an exemption is automatic for any school which requests it.

2 - Alabama chief justice faces charges from commission over gay marriage actions

The Judicial Inquiry Commission of the State of Alabama, which was, according to the state judiciary's website, "created under the provisions of the Alabama Constitution, is charged with investigating complaints of misconduct or professional wrongdoing on the part of judges," has filed a complaint against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, according to a press release from Liberty Counsel, which is representing the Chief Justice.  The website states that:

The charges focus solely on his Administrative Order issued in January 2016, in which he wrote that the 2015 orders of the Alabama Supreme Court remained in effect until the Court further indicates otherwise. Chief Justice Moore did not participate in the 2015 orders, which ruled that the Probate Judges must uphold the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Act.

The Liberty Counsel website quotes Chief Justice Moore as saying, "The Judicial Inquiry Commission has no authority over the Administrative Orders of the Chief Justice of Alabama or the legal injunction of the Alabama Supreme Court prohibiting probate judges from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. We intend to fight this agenda vigorously and expect to prevail.".

Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel said that "the JIC has once again veered from its duty and now seeks to resolve a legal dispute that can only be resolved by the Alabama Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court."  Staver, who called the Commission's action, "outrageous," pointed out that, "Earlier this year a federal Court of Appeals and three federal District Courts rendered the same opinion as Chief Justice Moore about how to apply the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage opinion."

1 - Department of Justice issues ultimatum to North Carolina about bathroom law

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice is taking aim at North Carolina's new transgender bathroom law, HB2.  The Christian Examiner reports that in a letter to Governor Pat McCrory, the DOJ claims the state and the governor are in breach of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, according to the letter, prohibits discrimination against transgenders.

The letter charges that, "the State is engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees and both you [the governor], in your official capacity, and the State are engaging in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of Title VII rights by transgender employees of public agencies."

The DOJ also gave the state a deadline: "Please advise the Department, therefore, no later than close of business on May 9, 2016, whether you will remedy these violations of Title VII, including by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement H.B. 2, and that it has notified employees of the State and public agencies that, consistent with federal law, they are permitted to access bathrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity."

The governor issued a statement in response, saying, in part, that the Obama administration claims "one part of House Bill 2, which requires state employees in public government buildings and students in our universities to use a restroom, locker room and shower facility that match their biological sex, is now in violation of federal law."  He accused the administration of staking out a position for not only North Carolina, but for all states, universities, and most employers in the U.S. He added, "The right and expectation of privacy in one of the most private areas of our personal lives is now in jeopardy."  At the time, McCrory said the state would review the law and determine its next steps.  The state could lose federal funding if it does not act.

And, just as in the Title IX situation mentioned earlier, the article points out that the definitions section of Title VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not include "gender identity" as a class, but in the regulations adopted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last year, extra-legal non-discrimination protections were extended to transgenders.  So "gender identity" has been added as a class not by action taken by Congress, but by the discretion of a Federal agency.

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