Rejects Yeshiva’s claim to be an exempt “religious corporation” and rejects Yeshiva’s 1st Amendment claim: “Providing the Pride Alliance with full and equal access to public accommodations does not intrude on Yeshiva’s asserted right “to decide matters ‘of faith and doctrine.’”
Yesterday, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s order this past summer requiring Yeshiva University (YU) to recognize an official “Pride Alliance” student club.
We covered the ongoing conflict between YU and the student Pride Alliance here :
- New York Court Forcing Yeshiva University to Accept LGBT Club on Campus
- Justice Sotomayor Stays NY State Court Order Forcing Yeshiva University To Recognize “Pride Alliance” Club
- Yeshiva University Must Recognize LGBTQ Student Group For Now, After SCOTUS Vacates Stay As Premature
- Pending Return to SCOTUS, Yeshiva University Freezes All Student Group Activities Rather Than Recognize LGBT Alliance
- Yeshiva University and ‘Pride Alliance’ Agree To Stay Of State Court Order That Forced School To Officially Recognize LGBT Group
The court found that YU does not qualify as a “religious corporation” exempt from the New York City Human Rights Law (NYHRL) prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations.
Nor does requiring the school to recognize the LGBTQ club violate its First Amendment rights, the court held. “Providing the Pride Alliance with full and equal access to public accommodations does not intrude on Yeshiva’s asserted right “to decide matters ‘of faith and doctrine,’” it said.
The University had trouble convincing the court of a constitutional violation, given its recognition of similar groups in its other divisions:
The record demonstrates that Yeshiva already recognizes LGBTQ+ student organizations at three of its graduate schools, which are legally part of Yeshiva’s corporation, has done so for over 25 years, and made clear as early as 1995 that this recognition did not mean Yeshiva endorsed or accepted the views of those student groups. As such, and in light of Yeshiva’s corporate purpose as an institution of higher education, we find that denial of recognition for the Pride Alliance is not “essential” to Yeshiva’s “central mission.
By the end of the ruling, the court had let no good deed go unpunished. Ironically, the school’s ongoing goodwill gestures — even amidst the strife — towards members of the LGBTQ community undermined its First Amendment arguments:
There is no violation of Yeshiva’s associational rights where plaintiff Pride Alliance members are already enrolled students, Yeshiva already engaged in many discussions with the Pride Alliance about sexual orientation and gender identity issues, Yeshiva continued to express the desire to foster diversity and inclusion in association with Pride Alliance members when denying official recognition, and Yeshiva even explained several actions it was undertaking to bring about “greater awareness and acceptance” and “create a space where students, faculty and Roshei Yeshiva to continue this conversation” about sexual orientation and gender identity.
According to the University’s student newspaper, The Commentator, yesterday’s decision does not immediately require the school to recognize the Pride Alliance club. This past September, the parties agreed to a stay of the trial court order that “will remain will remain in effect until all appeals, including appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, are decided.”
Those appeals will go forward, University spokesman Hanan Eisenman told the student paper. “Yeshiva is disappointed in the court’s ruling,” he said, “and will continue on appeal to defend against the claim that we are not a religious institution.” The paper reports that YU will next appeal its case to the New York Court of Appeals, which is the highest court in the state. Ultimately, the school will continue its appeal to the US Supreme Court.
As we wrote here, that appeal would bring the case full circle to September, when the Court ruled on YU’s request to block the state court’s order forcing it to recognize the club. The Court then sent the University back to state court to finish out the appeals process, signaling that it would likely prevail on its return.DONATE
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