Competing values clash in LGBT-related dispute at Yale Law School

There’s a controversy at Yale Law School over a policy whereby Yale gives financial support for public-interest fellowships only if the employer does not discriminate in hiring based on gender and sexual orientation. Sen. Ted Cruz accuses Yale of blacklisting Christian organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom and of punishing Yale students whose values or religious faith leads them to work for such groups. Cruz says he intends to hold a subcommittee investigation of the matter.

I see a difference between (1) refusing to fund fellowships for students who work for organizations that engage in hiring discrimination and (2) refusing to fund fellowships for students who work for organizations that take positions Yale disagrees with. The distinction isn’t clear-cut in this case, however, because one of the religiously-based positions some of these organizations take may be that gays and lesbians can’t work for them.

To further complicate matters, it is probably the case that gays and lesbians have no genuine desire to work for organizations taking positions that run counter to the LGBT agenda, including the position that gays and lesbians can’t work for them. Thus, hiring discrimination may not be a genuine concern here.

Rather, it may be a pretext for punishing students and organizations with views Yale doesn’t like. Indeed, a student told the Washington Post that Yale’s controversial announcement flowed from tensions over a Yale Law School Federalist Society event in which a lawyer from Alliance Defending Freedom gave a talk about the Masterpiece Cakeshop case

Still, I believe the following propositions are true, in general: (1) it’s defensible for organizations to discriminate in hiring against LGBT applicants if their genuine religious beliefs require them to do so; (2) it’s defensible for a university not to subsidize employment with organizations that discriminate against their LGBT students, (3) it’s indefensible for a university to subsidize employment with organizations that take one set of political/philosophical positions but not to subsidize employment with organizations that take a contrary set of political/philosophical positions.

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