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SACRAMENTO (ChurchMilitant.com) - A bill that would remove religious universities' exemption from anti-discrimination laws has been amended. Wednesday, a California state senator decided to revise the bill owing to protest from many universities and religious leaders.
The Senate bill before amending would have prevented colleges that receive state funds from enforcing religious beliefs about sexual identity, limiting bathrooms to biological gender and teaching that marriage is between a man and woman. The bill also requires schools to report to the state any incidents when students are expelled for violating morality codes.
Senator Ricardo Lara's revision is not doing away with the exemption of religious schools to anti-discrimination laws. However, the bill is still forcing schools to report whenever they have an exemption and report to the state when students are expelled for violating morality codes.
Lara made the revision the day after he received a signed letter from 145 Christians, Muslims and Jewish leaders. The letter stated, "The government has no place in discriminating against poor religious minorities or in pitting a religious education institution's faith-based identity against its American identity." Another possible motivation is possibly the respone of several universities forming a new committee called the Assn. of Faith-Based Institutions in protest against his bill.
Barry Corey, president of Biola University has been speaking out against the bill. "It would be a step backwards if California, a state that has long been a leader in diversity, inclusion and pluralism, could not find a way to value and honor the religious freedom of Christian universities like Biola while at the same time respecting the dignity of our students," he commented.
Lara claims, "The goal for me has always been to shed the light on the appalling and unacceptable discrimination against LGBT students at these private religious institutions throughout California." He says he will pursue new legislation and might include the amended piece from this year in next year's proposed laws.