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Biden’s Department of Justice says it can ‘vigorously’ defend religious schools’ exemption from anti-LGBTQ discrimination laws

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In a court filing on Tuesday in Hunter v. the US Department of Education, the Biden administration said it shares the “same ultimate objective” as schools named in the case.

The class-action suit was filed against the US government for “giving religious exemptions to colleges so that they can discriminate against LGBTQ students,” according to LGBTQ Nation.

The Department of Justice said on Tuesday that it could “vigorously” defend a religious exemption from federal civil rights law that allows federally funded religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students.

This move “surprised” some LGBTQ advocates who said “the wording went further than just an obligation to defend existing law,” according to The Washington Post.

The Supreme Court is also expected to rule soon in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case involving same-sex adoption.

The move seems to conflict with the Biden administration’s March memo from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division pledging that ‘[a]ll persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation,’ but it also aligns with the DOJ’s duty to defend federal laws.

At issue in Hunter v. the US Department of Education are 40 LGBTQ students at conservative religious colleges and universities who are suing the government for its role in providing funding to schools with discriminatory policies. The schools say they have a First Amendment right to promote traditional religious beliefs about sexuality and gender.

The Fulton v. City of Philadelphia case, argued before the Supreme Court in November 2020, could “have lasting implications for gay couples looking to start a family,” says NBC News. A ruling is expected in the next few weeks.

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