ACLU Will Take Battle Against Yeshiva University's Anti-Gay Housing Discrimination to State's Highest Court
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK–Vowing to press ahead against a common form of anti-gay discrimination nationwide, the American Civil Liberties Union today said it will appeal a New York Supreme Court ruling that affirms Yeshiva University’s policy prohibiting same-sex pairs from living in couples’ student housing.
The ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project sued Yeshiva University on behalf of two lesbian student couples who were denied campus housing together. While many colleges and universities have bowed to social and legal pressure to afford equal housing rights to same-sex couples, this is the first case in the nation to be argued in court.
A lower court earlier dismissed the ACLU’s case against Yeshiva. In a short, unsigned ruling announced today, the appellate division of the state Supreme Court ruled that Yeshiva’s housing policy is not discriminatory. The court said the lesbian couples failed to show that Yeshiva’s policy discriminated, since “it had the same impact on non-married, heterosexual students as it had on non-married homosexual students.”
The court did not address the fact that heterosexual students have the option of marrying, while lesbians and gay men do not. “This decision defies all logic and common sense,” said Michael Adams, Associate Director of the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project and one of the attorneys handling the case.
By limiting couples’ housing to opposite-sex pairs, Yeshiva University is violating New York’s city and state nondiscrimination laws, Adams said. “With this ruling, the state Supreme Court has said that it is permissible for a university to violate state and local laws and discriminate based on sexual orientation and marital status,” Adams explained. “It’s a misguided ruling, and we will not let it stand.”
The ACLU will appeal the case to the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. “A case this important cries out for closer examination,” Adams said. “It’s a significant case for the students at Yeshiva University, but this is also a national issue. From coast to coast, thousands of college students face housing discrimination every year.”
While comprehensive data do not exist, it is estimated that less than half of non-sectarian colleges and universities nationwide allow same-sex partners to live in couples’ student housing. Yeshiva University receives substantial federal funding.
The case is Levin v. Yeshiva University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The ACLU’s news release on the filing of the case is online at http://archive.aclu.org/news/n062498a.html
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