Univ. of Fla. must recognize Christian fraternity

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Editor’s note: The Associated Press reported that on Oct. 27, 2009, the 11th Circuit dismissed an appeal by Beta Upsilon Chi, finding the controversy was moot because the university had amended its policy in January 2009 and allowed the fraternity to register.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A federal appeals court has ordered University of Florida officials to recognize a Christian fraternity.

Judges from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta issued an injunction yesterday ordering the action while a discrimination lawsuit filed by Beta Upsilon Chi against the school moves forward.

“The 11th Circuit seems to understand that Christian student groups cannot be singled out for discrimination,” said attorney Timothy J. Tracey of the Christian Legal Society in a news release. “The right to associate with people of like mind and interest applies to all student groups on a public university campus.”

The Christian Legal Society, along with the Alliance Defense Fund, is representing the fraternity.

According to the lawsuit, the fraternity has been denied official recognition because only men are allowed to join, which the university considers sex discrimination. The fraternity also hasn’t been allowed to join the off-campus system of fraternities and sororities because its rules bar religious discrimination. Beta Upsilon Chi requires its members to be Christians.

The lawsuit claims the fraternity has been deprived of official benefits given to other groups, including access to meeting space and the ability to advertise and recruit members on campus.

The fraternity appealed to the 11th Circuit after a federal judge rejected its request for a preliminary injunction. A motion for summary judgment is still pending before the federal judge.

University officials did not return a call seeking comment in time for this story.

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