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Take Discrimination Out of Ohio's Proposed Budget

posted Jun 2, 2011, 9:30 AM by Michael Chanak

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The proposed state budget passed recently in the Ohio House includes an obscure provision that will allow student groups at taxpayer-funded state universities to discriminate and exclude students from membership and leadership positions based on religious beliefs or standards of conduct (Ohio Rev. Code §3345.023).  This means that our state universities will not be able to withhold funding from student groups who exclude LGBT people; Jewish, Christian or Muslim people; women; people who have had premarital sex; and, anyone else that a particular religious student group deems unworthy of membership.  Fair-minded Ohioans do not want taxpayer dollars to fund discrimination.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez upholding the constitutionality of a state law school’s “all-comers” policy because it is reasonable and viewpoint neutral.  Justice Ginsburg wrote that “by bringing together students with diverse views, [the policy] encourages tolerance, cooperation, learning, and the development of conflict-resolution skills.”  After Ohio State University changed its policy recently to require student groups to accept all-comers as members, the Christian Legal Society Chapter at OSU stated it was “yet one more opportunity to welcome all students to attend CLS's meetings and activities.”

All-comers policies do nothing more than ensure that students are given an equal opportunity to engage, discuss, and collaborate with groups on campus.  Compelling student groups to adhere to the nondiscrimination policy is also fair because it ensures that no student will be paying part of his or her tuition or fees for student groups that will not allow him or her to become a member.  An all-comers policy does not prevent members of groups like the Christian Legal Society from practicing their religion or associating with those with similar beliefs, but simply states that such groups cannot exclude certain students as members and receive university funding.

Ohio residents: contact your State Senator today and tell them to take discrimination out of the Ohio budget!

Click here to email your legislator


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