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August 29, 2022 3:42 pm

Yeshiva University Asks Supreme Court to Block LGTBQ Club

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Yeshiva University David H. Zysman Hall. Photo: Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons

Yeshiva University (YU) has asked the US Supreme Court to stay a lower court ruling that ordered it to recognize a LBGTQ-pride student club.

In April 2021, a group of alumni and students sued the university for allegedly violating New York State’s Human Rights Law when it refused to charter a chapter of YU Pride. In June, a state judge ruled that Yeshiva University is not a religious organization and must grant the group “the full equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges afforded to all other students groups.”

In Monday’s filing, the university maintained that it does exist “for a purely religious purpose” and that its initial decision is justified by the Torah. Citing the case, Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo-Oyez, in which the Supreme Court ruled that Catholic social service agencies can deny gay couples’ applications for child adoption, it also argued that ruling in its favor safeguards the First Amendment and the public interest.

“When secular authorities try to tell Yeshiva University that it is not religious, you know something has gone terribly wrong,” senior counsel Eric Baxter said Monday. “The First Amendment protects Yeshiva’s right to practice its faith. We are asking the Supreme Court to correct this obvious error.”

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Yeshiva University president Ari Berman said, “the Torah guides everything that we do at Yeshiva.”

“From how we educate students to how we run our dining halls to how we organize our campus,” he continued. “We care deeply for and welcome all our students, including out LGBTQ students, and continue to be engaged in a productive dialogue with our Rabbis, faculty, and students on how we apply our Torah values to create an inclusive campus environment. We only ask for the government to allow us the freedom to apply the Torah in accordance with our values.”

Applications for staying lower court rulings “are handled on paper,” according to US Supreme Court’s official website, with neither the petitioner nor the judge to which it is addressed having to appear in court. They are, on average, responded to in six weeks.

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