Both houses of the General Assembly have passed bills that allow religious and political groups at state colleges to restrict membership to individuals who are “committed” to the organization’s mission.
The legislation is designed to ensure that political groups don’t have to accept members from another party and religious groups can “expect that their leadership will share the group’s core commitments,” said Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, the sponsor of the Senate bill.
The legislation would prevent public colleges from discriminating against political and religious organizations that adopt restrictive membership policies.
Opponents of the legislation said the bills are thinly-veiled attempts to let subsidized campus groups discriminate against gay students. Obenshain said his bill “will protect free association and academic freedom on campus.”
“It’s pretty simple: a Democratic club shouldn’t have to accept a Republican as a member and members of a religious group should be able to It’s perfectly reasonable for an organization to expect its members to agree with, and be good examples of, the organization’s mission,” Obenshain said.
– Michael Sluss