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California lawmaker drops part of bill targeting Christian colleges

The California state lawmaker pushing a bill that would strip Christian colleges of their religious liberty announced today he would remove one of the legislation’s most problematic provisions.

State Sen. Ricardo Lara said the amended bill would no longer allow students to sue schools that violate the state’s anti-discrimination statues, from which the schools are now exempt. Instead, the schools would have to disclose their exempt status and notify the state’s Student Aid Commission any time they expel a student for violating faith-based codes of conduct. Under the bill’s initial wording, students would not have been able to use Cal-Grant scholarships for any schools that violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

The bill is scheduled for a final committee vote tomorrow before going to the General Assembly for a floor vote. College representatives previously said they expected the bill to pass the Democrat-controlled state legislature and easily win Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval.

Although Lara has modified the bill, he’s not backing down from his attempt to force Christian colleges to accept the state’s narrow definition of tolerance.

“With SB1146, we shed light on the appalling discriminatory practices LGBT students face at private religious universities in California,” Lara said in a statement. “These provisions represent critical first steps in the ongoing efforts to protect students from discrimination for living their truths or loving openly.”

If SB1146 becomes law, it will mirror new federal requirements for schools that request exemptions from Title IX, which the Obama administration has interpreted to include protections for transgender students. Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex, which also includes sexual and gender identity, according to the Justice Department. In response to the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, the Obama administration will publish a list of all colleges that request an exemption from Title IX provisions on religious grounds.

Religious liberty advocates have suggested the list is just a precursor to a more direct attempt to force Christian universities to drop biblically based codes of conduct regarding sexuality and gender issues.

— by Leigh Jones | WNS

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