Yeshiva University turns to Supreme Court for help in blocking LBGTQ club

The Orthodox institution wants to stay an order to sanction the formation of an LGBTQ student club, based on religious grounds.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

New York’s Yeshiva University (YU) turned to the U.S. Supreme Court for help Monday in blocking the formation of an LGBTQ student club on religious grounds.

The move came a week after an intermediate court denied the school’s request for a stay in the execution of a lower court’s order to immediately recognize YU Pride Alliance as an official campus club, despite the fact that YU had filed an appeal of that legal order in the New York State Appellate Division, which has yet to be decided.

The Orthodox institution, represented by attorneys for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, is basing its case on the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom.

“As a deeply religious Jewish university, Yeshiva cannot comply with that order because doing so would violate its sincere religious beliefs about how to form its undergraduate students in Torah values,” the lawyers stated.

The ruling was “an unprecedented intrusion into Yeshiva’s religious beliefs,” and the establishment of such a club would cause the students “irreparable harm,” they wrote in their 42-page petition to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who hears cases from New York.

Homosexuality is forbidden according to Jewish law, and the school has been pushed over recent years to allow unofficial student activities with an LGBTQ orientation.

In a press release, the university stated that it was “asking the Court to protect its religious mission from government interference.”

The lower court’s order to officially recognize an LGBTQ Pride Alliance club on campus, the statement continued, “would force Yeshiva to put its stamp of approval on a club and activities that are inconsistent with the school’s Torah values and the religious environment it seeks to maintain” on campus.

LGBTQ students won the right to establish their club in June, when the New York Supreme Court ruled that since YU is officially nonsectarian, it is bound to comply with the New York City Human Rights Law and cannot discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation.

The university tried to argue that its nonsectarian status – vital to receiving government funding – was solely determined by its admissions procedure, which does not discriminate among students based on faith, color or sex.

Since the school year has already started and clubs are about to begin their activities, the court has been asked to respond to the petition by Friday. Sotomayor can either grant the stay, reject it, or refer it to be heard by the full court.