In February, a group of Yale Law students invited a lawyer from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian law firm, to speak at the campus. The student LGBT group caused a ruckus and demanded the school yank all funds from students and alumni who work with organizations that “discriminate” against LGBT people. Yale caved in late March, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) responded with a scathing letter threatening legal action.
“Yale’s new discriminatory policy came to light a few days ago in the news, but demands immediate attention and concern,” a Cruz spokesperson told PJ Media. “In his capacity as chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, [Cruz] intends to investigate the extent and nature of Yale’s discrimination against their own Christian and conservative students, continue gathering information from various sources within Yale Law, from faculty to students, and possibly hold a hearing to determine whether their rights are being violated by Yale, an institution which receives federal funds and is clearly prohibited from this sort of action.”
“Public news reports indicate that Yale Law School has recently adopted a transparently discriminatory policy: namely, that Yale will no longer provide any stipends or loan repayments for students serving in organizations professing traditional Christian views or adhering to traditional sexual ethics,” Cruz wrote in the letter on Thursday.
He announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution opened an investigation into the new policy, announced on March 25. The investigation may involve a subpoena or a lawsuit.
As Cruz noted, the policy extends Yale’s “putative nondiscrimination policy to summer public interest fellowships, postgraduate public interest fellowships, and loan forgiveness for public interest careers.”
According to its official policy, “Yale does not discriminate in admissions, educational programs, or employment against any individual on account of that individual’s sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, status as a protected veteran, or national or ethnic origin; nor does Yale discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”
Americans oppose discrimination, but Christian organizations may fall afoul of this kind of policy due to their beliefs. Organizations like ADF stand for beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman and that restrooms, changing rooms, and dormitories should be segregated on the basis of biological sex as opposed to gender identity. ADF also provides legal defense for Americans who abide by these beliefs and ideas.
Due to this very activism, the far-left smear factory the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) branded ADF a “hate group,” placing it on a list along with the Ku Klux Klan. Even ADF’s ideological opponents with the ACLU and the atheist group Military Religious Freedom Foundation have denounced this label as false.
Yale’s LGBT organization, Outlaws, cited this “hate group” label and demanded this new policy in order to counter organizations like ADF. As The Daily Wire’s Josh Hammer reported, Outlaws also demanded Yale Law apply the nondiscrimination policy to its admissions standards, effectively exiling at the outset convictional Christians and applicants who hold to traditional views of gender and sexuality.
“This is motivated by anti-religious bigotry, plain and simple,” Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel and director for ADF’s Center of Academic Freedom, told PJ Media. “All of the changes are being advocated by activists trying to bully Christians out of the marketplace of ideas.”
Langhofer explained the practical impacts of the policy (which has not yet been implemented): it will restrict various streams of funding available to Yale Law students and alumni. Any Yale student or alumnus who works for a socially conservative firm like ADF will not be eligible for “any funds, scholarships, stipends, or loan repayment programs.” Yale Law School’s loan repayment program is extraordinarily generous, and this new policy will prevent certain Christian alumni from receiving its benefits.
“This policy doesn’t protect any Yale student from discrimination,” Langhofer told PJ Media. “All it does is discriminate against religious Yale students and alumni. It’s censorship, plain and simple, and it doesn’t solve any problem.”
In fact, the policy will have disastrous unintended consequences as well. The ADF lawyer warned that the new policy cuts off opportunities for veterans at law firms and other employers that only hire veterans, and it also cuts off opportunities at women-only firms and employers.
“It goes to show what happens when you’re trying to drive a policy based on your desire to censor the other side — it seeps so broadly,” Langhofer said.
The lawyer said ADF appreciated the Ted Cruz letter. “We obviously encourage any support from anyone that is going to take action to discourage Yale from enacting this type of policy that is clearly designed to discriminate against religious students,” he said.
“Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences are essential in a pluralistic society like ours,” Langhofer concluded. “They allow us to peacefully coexist with each other.”
Organizations like ADF are not “hate groups.” They’re not fighting to make sure that Christians can do harm to LGBT people. Instead, they’re pushing for the basic right to religious freedom that everyone has under the Constitution. Law firms and other organizations should be able to hire only people who agree with their fundamental convictions.
Law students and alumni who choose to work at such firms should not be demonized or excluded from Yale Law’s benefits. Ted Cruz is right to investigate the school, and Yale Law should rethink this policy.
Worse, Yale Law’s decision to cave on this issue signals to Outlaws that it might be willing to cave on the demand for similar discrimination in admissions.
Americans need to speak up against the demonization of social conservative stances and conservative Christian beliefs. This anti-religious bigotry won’t just harm Christian law firms falsely branded “hate groups.” Policies based on this animus will have unintended consequences as well, and they send a chilling message.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.