Mich. Counseling Student Refuses to Treat Gays, Gets Expelled, Sues University
A counseling student from Eastern Michigan University (EMU), who was expelled for refusing to treat gays and lesbians, was recently granted permission by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that she can argue "religious discrimination" in her suit against the school, the Detroit Free Press reported. Julea Ward will now take her case before a federal court jury in Detroit.
"Ward’s free speech claim deserves to go to a jury," Judge Jeffrey Sutton said in an opinion joined by Julia Gibbons and John Adams.
"Although the university submits it dismissed Ward from the program because her request for a referral violated the ACA (American Counseling Association) code of ethics, a reasonable jury could find otherwise -- that the code of ethics contains no such bar and that the university deployed it as a pretext for punishing Ward’s religious views and speech."
Wade told professors that she could not see gays and lesbians because her "Christian faith prohibited her from affirming homosexual behavior," the Associated Press reported. Ward said that she would counsel them on other issues, however.
"I had never refused to counsel homosexuals, I had simply refused to affirm their lifestyle," Ward says in a YouTube video.
Lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christina legal organization, are defending Ward and are pleased with her major victory.
"Public universities shouldn’t force students to violate their religious beliefs to get a degree," said Jeremy Tedesco, the organization’s lawyer who argued the case. "The court rightly understood this and ruled appropriately. Rather than allow Julea to refer a potential client to another qualified counselor -- a common, professional practice to best serve clients -- EMU attacked and questioned Julea’s religious beliefs and ultimately expelled her from the program because of them."
The university released a statement and explained the Sixth Circuit Court’s ruling.
"Rather, the Sixth Circuit Court ruled that there needs to be additional legal proceedings before a decision can be reached," EMU Vice President for Communications Walter Kraft said. "The Court also found that the Regents and the President of Eastern Michigan University were properly dismissed from the lawsuit and refused to reinstate them despite Ward’s request."