The Pendulum Pauses: California Supreme Court Declines to Hear Lutheran High School Case
Alan J. Reinach, Esq.
Executive Director, Church State Council
The gay rights community has been pressing the case of two female students who were expelled from the California Lutheran High School for their public expressions of romantic affection for one another. The school insisted that it has the right to enforce standards of student conduct rooted in its religious values.
Two lower courts have held that the school is not a “public accommodation,” and that it is not subject to laws requiring it to respect non-discrimination rules with respect to student admissions and discipline. The ruling has been consistent with prior cases.
Now the California Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal in the case, leaving the lower court rulings to stand. As we have observed in previous articles, the pendulum is swinging in favor of gay rights and away from religious freedom. But in this case, the pendulum clearly took a pause.
Last year, the California Supreme Court signaled that gay rights will trump religious freedom in two decisions; first, by equating homosexuality with race, and second, by explicitly rejecting the notion that religious freedom can even be balanced as a defense against a claim of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Under this legal framework, had the Lutheran High School been found subject to the non-discrimination laws, it would not have been able to assert religious freedom as a valid defense for disciplining students for violating school policies. Instead, it would have been forced to change its policies. Ironically, the school could have forbidden heterosexual dating among students, but not homosexual dating. This is the absurdity of current “equality” principles.
Yes, the pendulum has paused. But for how long? Will the California legislature take up legislation to “fix” this problem? I would be very surprised if such a bill is NOT introduced early next year, or slipped into an existing bill working its way toward passage this year.
Those who value the freedom and independence of private and religious schools should remain vigilant about this issue. Join NARLA now. Be informed, get involved!