The University of Iowa cannot remove a Christian student group’s registered status after the group prohibited a gay student from a leadership role, a federal court has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Stephanie M. Rose approved a permanent injunction that forces the University of Iowa to reverse its decision and recognize Business Leaders in Christ as a registered student organization.
She said in her opinion that the school applies its human rights policy “unevenly.”
"The Constitution does not tolerate the way defendants chose to enforce the human rights policy," she said. "Particularly when free speech is involved, the uneven application of any policy risks the most exacting standard of judicial scrutiny, which the defendants have failed to withstand."
The university had threatened to strip the group of its registered status after the group barred a gay student from taking on a leadership role. The university said that action violated the school’s human rights policy.
Senior counsel Eric Baxter, of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the group representing the student organization, called the judge’s ruling a “win for basic fairness.”
The group released a statement after the court ruling, saying “universities can’t target religious student groups for being religious.”
“We are grateful the court protected our rights today—to let us have the same right as all student groups to express our viewpoints freely on campus, and to be who we are,” Business Leaders in Christ group member Jake Estell said.
The group requires leaders to sign a “statement of faith” that says sexual relationships are only between a married husband and wife.
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