Sunday, April 25, 2010


At Hastings School of Law in San Francisco, no campus group can exclude a student who

wishes to join. You don't believe in global warming, but want to join the environmental club?

You are welcome. You are opposed to the equal rights amendment, but want to join the

feminist law society on campus? Y'all come. No officially sanctioned club may discriminate

against any other student. You can see what's coming, can't you? A group of "Christian"

students want to be an official Hastings Club. Being a recognized campus group would entitle

them to a small subsidy, preferential treatment when trying to reserve an on-campus meeting

space, access to bulletin boards, etc. One problem, this group wants to exclude from

membership anyone who is gay, supports gay rights, or doesn't condemn premarital sex.

The school said "thanks, but no thanks" and denied the "Christians" official recognition.

Hastings is a state supported school. The California Constitution bans any form of

discrimination based on sexual orientation. It also requires separation of church and state

as does the U.S. Constitution. If Hastings were to accept this "Christian" group, taxpayers

would be endorsing prejudice and discrimination. Tax money would go to support a religious

group. The "Christians" claim Hastings policy has hurt them, even though they admit their

membership doubled after their application for Hastings Club status was turned down.

The "Christians" want it both ways. They want the advantages of being an on-campus

group; but they don't want to abide by the rules the school established for officially recognized

clubs. They cry foul and they claim Hastings is discriminating against them; but the reality

is they wish to discriminate, but don't want to pay the price. They can still be a group. They

can still hold meetings. They can pass out flyers and hold socials and prayer meetings. They

can associate with each other anytime they wish. No one, including Hastings, is denying them

their rights. They can exclude anyone they wish from their gatherings. What they cannot do

is discriminate and also expect official recognition. Taxpayers cannot be asked to subsidize

policies which are unconstitutional.

I have no idea how the oral arguments will play out. I can guess the positions of the

regressive Catholic block on the court. I truly don't see the conflict here. No one is making

the "Christians" form a club or denying them that ability. If they want one, they have to be

open, tolerant, even loving towards those who might want to join but disagree with them.

Years ago, the Olympic Club in San Francisco got into trouble because it didn't admit

women. Part of the club's golf course sat on city property and the city wanted the policy

changed. They were also sued because members could deduct their membership fees as

business expenses even though women were excluded from all the "business" being discussed.

Members argued they had the right to associate with whomever they wished and had the

right to exclude women. Ultimately, they lost. They did have the right to have a club and

they did have the right to exclude women; but they couldn't deduct their fees nor could their

golf course continue to occupy city land. In the end, they admitted women and no longer

treat their fees as business expenses. The club thrives and even had its first adult women's

basketball league a few years ago.

There is nothing wrong with a policy of non-discrimination. The Hasting's policy is

neutral. No club may discriminate against any other student. All comers have to be welcome.

It is not aimed at any one religion or philosophy. That this case stems from a "Christian"

group who wants to engage in prejudice and bigotry is an irony which will be lost on no one.

How did a philosophy of total love and care turn into one of prejudice and

discrimination? Why is it every other group at Hastings can open their membership to all

comers except the "Christians"? What perverted permutations occurred in the last 2000

years, to turn a philosophy of tolerance and forgiveness, committed to the least of your

brothers and sisters, into a political force for hatred and exclusion? "Christians" can only

meet with like-minded folks? How well would that approach have worked in the early

Church? Can you imagine Paul refusing to meet with anyone who didn't share his vision

and approach? What would have happened to the spread of early Christianity if membership

were limited to only those who bought into it hook, line, and sinker? Peter tried it. He

tried to force Gentile Christians to be circumcised and obey Jewish dietary laws and he was

overridden at the Council of Jerusalem. Christianity was open to all, not just those who

followed Jewish custom.

I hope the Supreme Court rules in Hasting's favor. To side with the "Christians" would

force California taxpayers to subsidize discrimination and would have the state ignoring

its own laws to accommodate a religious group. I wish I were confident the court will not

reward this group. Church and state need to be kept separate because religious or sectarian

disputes can tear a nation to shreds. Anyone been to Iraq or Afghanistan lately? What do you

think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to

Note: Sometimes more than one blog is posted at a time; so be sure to check the previous

blogs to make sure that you have not missed any of the "Lion of the Left" postings.


  1. What do I think? I think I'm not so
    surprised. I think the United States is going
    down the tubes pretty quickly now. To much
    corporate power, to many greedy Goldman Sachs
    corps - to much right wing regressive thought.

    I think I've ceased really caring that much. I'm getting old - thinking about other things
    frankly. Do I have a soul? What really was
    the meaning of my life? What did I get right -
    what did I get wrong - how do I prepare for the

  2. Bernie
    You shudda been a loiyr as Len Tillman says.
    For your next piece you have no lack of choices.
    Hmm More on the Pope and catholic priests from around the world who abused the innocent. Democrats attempt to vote on Wall Street regulations blocked by all Republicans. If they can't turn those lemons into juice the Democrats are in trouble. Immigration legislatin in Arizona. Where is Cesar Chavez when they need him. We had a sunny weekend with rain acoming tonight and tomorrow.
    Best wishes
    Steve Dells

  3. was turned your blog after someone mentioned it on the ba.broadcast group. good to see you're still keeping abreast of the current happenings. In the years since I last heard you on the air I wondered what you'd be saying about some of the increasingly feral politics in this country.

    I really would like to know your thoughts on the anti-woman laws passed recently in several states such as Nebraska and Oklahoma(why do the people living in these states hate women so much? no wonder Ted Bundy was a republican), as well as the outright fascist anti-immigrant law in Arizona. the Mayor of SF has banned official business to the state. ANyway, it's 4:30am PST and i'm going to crash now, take care! ;)