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When the university brought a lawsuit against the IRS, the Supreme Court affirmed that proper interpretation of the IRS statute meant institutions seeking tax-exempt status must serve a “public purpose and not be contrary to established public policy.” Racial discrimination did not serve a public purpose; furthermore, it violated public policy.
Though the decision was cause for rejoicing among many, myself included, it has raised concerns for faith-based colleges and universities that define themselves according to worldviews that reject homosexuality.
After reading Obergefell I think the concerns of these colleges are unjustified for a number of reasons.
That reasoning focused on a legislative and jurisprudential history that had developed over 100 years.
The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment targeting racial discrimination was ratified in 1868. Board of Education, the Supreme Court case that interpreted the Constitution to disallow segregation in education, was handed down in 1954.
It had to show that it had a compelling interest and it had to show that it had taken a very restrictive, narrow path to achieve its compelling interest.
This is a high bar, and the Supreme Court uses it to review only certain discrimination claims -- like those based on race.An Unwarranted Concern There are two reasons that faith-based colleges will be allowed to continue to act on their beliefs against homosexuality without losing tax-exempt status.First, the Supreme Court in Bob Jones based its decision on the fact that every branch of government and an unbroken line of Supreme Court cases had repeatedly and explicitly denounced racial segregation. Stronks doesn't think the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage will create legal threats for Christian colleges.But she thinks it's time for many Christian colleges to change anyway. Hodges said that all states must recognize the fundamental right of marriage for both straight and gay and lesbian couples.The Bob Jones court applied the strict scrutiny test, concluding that even though the First Amendment protects religious liberty, religious freedom is not absolute.In this case, where the government wanted to elevate the protection of racial groups over the protection of religious groups, the government had to show two things.So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., arguing for same-sex marriage, responded that without more specifics he couldn’t be certain but that it would definitely “be an issue.” This exchange caused the chancellor of Patrick Henry College in Virginia to write in that churches and faith-based educational institutions would have to decide what was more important, their religious convictions or their tax exemption.After stating that Obergefell relates only to a situation in which no harm occurs to others, Kennedy explicitly addressed religious organizations.He said that the First Amendment ensures that they are given “proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.” What did Justice Kennedy mean?