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Yeshiva University Must Recognize LGBTQ Club, Appeals Court Rules

Yeshiva University Must Recognize LGBTQ Club, Appeals Court Rules

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 :

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.


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UnCivilServant | December 16, 2022 at 3:02 pm

Public accommodation laws of all stripes are an abomination and an abridgement of the freedom of association – even before we get to the religious argument.

Wasn’t there another college that was ‘ordered’ to acknowledge a LGBTQ club and responded by banning ALL clubs?

    George_Kaplan in reply to Olinser. | December 16, 2022 at 7:34 pm

    That was Yeshiva. There was some agreement however that suspended that ban while the case was being argued or some such.

      The Pride group didn’t want to be the cause of all student clubs being shut down, so they agreed not to try to enforce their rights until the appeals process is done.

they should politely but firmly refuse to “obey”–what is the court going to do? arrest them? good luck with that

    sheldonkatz in reply to texansamurai. | December 17, 2022 at 10:15 am

    You don’t think Hochul would instantly send in Swat teams?

    Contempt of court. The university would be severely fined, and individual administrators could indeed be jailed. But the Pride group agreed not to press their rights until all the appeals are over, so it won’t come to that yet.

What’s the claim that makes this group different from those others it already recognizes? Other than “We best shut the barn door before the last cow gets out.”

    Milhouse in reply to GWB. | December 17, 2022 at 11:50 pm

    Basically the only difference is that this is in the undergrad college, where the administration tries to keep the religious character up as much as possible, even though they officially declared in 1967 that YU was no longer a religious organization. The existing clubs are at the grad schools, where the religious aspect is far in the background.

It’s time to review the doctrine and update it to the realities of 2022. A more limited doctrine that focuses on the strictly necessary intrusions of liberty would be more appropriate IMO. The modern culture is vastly different than 6 decades ago. Those differences are reflected in our collective attitudes and in our marketplace.

The students here could attend a University that catered to their personal beliefs. Instead the Students seek to impose their beliefs upon the University they chose to attend. They chose this University from among the many hundreds of Colleges and Universities with full knowledge that it didn’t have the student group they seek to impose.

The circumstances of this case doesn’t come close to presenting an extreme example of a last chance gas station/restaurant/hotel in the middle of nowhere that is literally the only option for a hundred miles. In that circumstance as the only de facto service provider that entity should not be allowed to discriminate.

Let individuals make their own decisions and allow the marketplace to determine if their decision was prudent. I suspect that very few people, businesses or entities will choose to engage in true discrimination. Many of those who do will likely be hounded out of business. Govt intervention to achieve tolerance in our society is no longer necessary. It isn’t about achieving tolerance anymore, today it is about forced acceptance for a favored group or idea over a disfavored group or idea.


why all the dissembling?–many, many people / faiths view homosexuality as a sin and have done so for literally thousands of years–that has not changed— it is what they believe and they are certainly entitled to their belief regardless of what ANY court may “rule”

    CommoChief in reply to texansamurai. | December 16, 2022 at 6:39 pm

    Dissembling? If it wasn’t clear, I am calling for eliminating any compulsory provisions that prevent an individual or an entity from the material expression of their belief.

    That’s a very different kettle of fish than being allowed to hold a belief but not able to express it or act upon it. Are to be grateful that we are allowed to hold a belief in the privacy of our own mind? I suppose it could be worse, the govt could make an attempt to detain free thinkers and conduct torture and reprogramming or mental conditioning to rid us of our dissenting views.

    Being ‘allowed’ to hold a belief is a very low standard for liberty. In an entity such as the military, where unit cohesion and small group dynamics are necessary components for mission accomplishment then the subordination of individual expression and action is justified. Outside of similar entities; LEO, Fire Fighting the case for refusing individuals the ability to act upon their beliefs and freely express those beliefs without sanction, other than by individuals acting in accordance with their own beliefs, is far less justified.

    Bottom line is if Joe wants to be difficult and refuse to serve certain groups that shouldn’t, IMO, trigger a legal consequence in 2022. The absence of a legal consequence doesn’t mean no consequences. His prior customer base may abandon him, people might protest, his suppliers could refuse him service. The marketplace would decide based on the thousands of individual decisions of personal liberty made in response.

      ahad haamoratsim in reply to CommoChief. | December 17, 2022 at 11:34 pm

      To too many liberals, religion is something you do for one hour on Sunday morning (or Friday night) before going to your favorite restaurant, and freedom of religion is limited to singing in a building with like minded people during that hour, provided that no one outside the building can hear you.

Ya screwed up. Ya didn’t follow the Hillsdale Strategy.

    Given that it is a City of New York public accommodations law that is involved and State of New York courts, the Hillsdale strategy of not accepting any Federal money likely is immaterial.

Appeals court is dead wrong on this.

    Milhouse in reply to Othniel. | December 17, 2022 at 11:52 pm

    The appeals court is 100% right on this, as was the trial court in the first place. Have you bothered to read the decision? If so, please point to the part you disagree with, and explain why. If you have not read it then you have no right to an opinion on it.

Seems like Yeshiva need to take the appellate court’s rulings and ban LGTP clubs and activism from all its schools, end all contact with Pride Alliance, sever all attempts to foster ‘diversity and inclusion’ for those choosing LGTP lifestyles etc, and make clear that this is all being done to protect First Amendment rights, and to ensure that some clubs will be permitted to exist in the future – the alternative is to end all student groups.

The court has made clear you can’t be slightly pregnant. You can either be pro-LGTP, or you can refuse to tolerate them as a privileged and protected class. There is no common ground under NY law, and a misstep will cost you everything.

    None of that will help, it will only put them even more in conflict with the law.

    There is only one reasonable solution for YU, if it doesn’t want to have this club on campus: Reverse its 1967 decision, re-merge with RIETS, and rewrite its charter and bylaws to explicitly state that it is a religious organization. That’s all. So long as it refuses to do that, and shouts to the whole world that is is a secular, nondenominational organization, it can’t turn around and claim to be religious when convenient.

    To borrow an expression from another religion, the 1967 split with RIETS was YU’s original sin, for which it is now paying the price. Or in Jewish terms, in 1967 YU wrote on a bull’s horn that it had no part of the G-d of Israel, and now it is being held to that declaration.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair | December 17, 2022 at 1:27 am

Our judiciary is a joke.