The California school can uphold its sexual standards policy under a religious exemption to Title IX regulations.
A US district court has sided with Fuller Theological Seminary against two students who claimed the school violated anti-discrimination laws when it expelled them for being in same-sex marriages.
This week, the Central District of California blocked a lawsuit from Joanna Maxon and Nathan Brittsan, who were each dismissed from Fuller for failing to comply with the seminary’s sexual standards policy, which holds that marriage is between one man and one woman and bars homosexual conduct.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented Fuller, says the court’s decision–the first of its kind for a seminary–strengthens constitutional protections for faith-based institutions that want to apply religious standards to their community.
Becket senior attorney Daniel Blomberg called it a “huge win” for religious higher education, ensuring religious institutions rather than the government will be “deciding how to teach the next generation of religious leaders.”
Maxon and Brittsan sought Title IX protections, claiming they were dismissed in 2018 and 2017 based on sex and sexual identity and each requesting $1 million. The court ruled that Fuller, as a religious organization enforcing its beliefs on marriage, fell under a religious exemption to the federal anti-discrimination law.
“The Sexual Standards Policy limits its definition of marriage to a heterosexual union and prohibits extramarital sex. [Fuller] interpreted this policy to mean that same-sex marriages violate the religious tenets of the school,” Judge Consuelo Marshall wrote on Wednesday. “The Court is not permitted to scrutinize the interpretation [Fuller] gives to its religious beliefs.”
Maxon had completed …