Gay Rights Program Manual Unconstitutional

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A Georgia Tech program that favors homosexuality has been ordered to change its training manual, ending a two year battle against the school and its policies.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the "Safe Space" program at Georgia Institute of Technology discriminated against students' religious views.

Parts of the group's manual hinted that biblical passages about homosexuality had been taken out of context and that the practice was not immoral.

"A public university should not be openly disparaging the beliefs of students who hold to a biblical view of homosexual behavior while endorsing other views," Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Nate Kellum said. "The program openly ridiculed the faith of many students while declaring that people in other religious groups have the 'correct' beliefs."

ADF attorneys sued on behalf of Orit Sklar and Ruth Malhotrahe in March 2006, after the students claimed Georgia Tech's policies downed the views of Christian conservatives in an effort to protect the campus from intolerance.

A judge ruled in the first part of the case, agreeing that the school's "speech code" was vague and unconstitutional.

As a result, Tech took out parts of its policy that prohibits students from any attempt to "injure, harm" or "malign" a person because of "race, religious belief, color, sexual/affectational orientation, national origin, disability, age or gender."

Last week's ruling closed the case after U.S. District Judge J. Owen Forrester ordered religious information be removed from the Safe Space manual because it "violated the Establishment Clause by favoring one religion over another" in a state-associated program.

Forrester denied the students' request for damages.

Georgia Tech officials said they do not plan to appeal the decision and that the school had already taken proper steps to satisfy the judge's ruling.

"Georgia Tech will not be required to take any actions as the result of today's court ruling," Georgia Tech spokesman James Fetig said in a statement. "As a result of today's ruling and the settlement of an earlier housing policy contention, Georgia Tech practices are exactly the same as before the suit was filed."

Safe Space serves as a resource for gay and lesbian students, and is open to all students, faculty and staff.

Sources: Alliance Defense Fund, Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Associated Press

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