Americans United for Separation of Church and State President and CEO Rachel Laser issued the following statement today in response to the order issued by the First Department Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court requiring Yeshiva University to recognize Pride Alliance, an LGBTQ student club:
“Religious freedom is a shield that protects us – never a sword to harm others. It ensures we all have the freedom to live as ourselves and believe as we choose. The court here did the right thing, reminding Yeshiva University that religious freedom is not a license to discriminate and that it must provide all student clubs – including those of LGBTQ students – with equal treatment and safe spaces under New York’s public accommodations law. Today’s decision is a win for true religious freedom.”
Yeshiva University Must Abide By New York City Human Rights Law
When YU refused to recognize Pride Alliance, the LGBTQ student club sued the university for violating New York City’s Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. One of the central questions in the case has been whether Yeshiva University is a public accommodation under that law. Back in 1995, YU admitted that it was chartered as a secular educational institution and therefore, as its own attorneys said at the time, it would be bound by human rights laws requiring equal treatment for student groups.
Americans United & Allies Filed Amicus Brief In Case
Americans United joined the ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union to file an amicus brief in the case, YU Pride Alliance v. Yeshiva University.
The Becket Fund, an active and well-funded member of the billion-dollar shadow network of religious extremists AU has been warning about, argued that YU should be exempt from the human rights law because of its Modern Orthodox Jewish beliefs, even though YU receives public funding and is not chartered as a religious organization.
Even the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene on behalf of Becket, and the case was kicked back down to the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court, which decided in favor of the student group today. That court correctly held that YU does not meet the definition of “religious corporation incorporated under the education law or the religious corporation law” and that giving the Pride Alliance full and equal access does not intrude on YU’s asserted right “to decide matters ‘of faith and doctrine.’” The court also noted there was no violation of YU’s free exercise of religion.
Americans United is a religious freedom advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, AU educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
Associate Vice President of Communications