The Michigan attorney general is siding with an Eastern Michigan University student who claims her religious rights were violated when she was dismissed from the school over her refusal to counsel gay and lesbian patients.
State Attorney General Bill Schuette joined anti-gay groups and several far-right religious organizations when he filed a brief supporting EMU student Julea Ward’s allegations of discrimination. EMU officials filed their own brief explaining that Ward was dismissed because her refusal to counsel a gay client strayed from the university’s code of ethics that requires counselors to set aside personal views when working with patients.
AG Schuette, however, disagreed, and unapologetically hurled himself into the thick of the debate on Friday when his office filed a brief that claimed, “There is a striking difference between EMU’s written standards and EMU’s application of those rules to Julea Ward,” the brief by Schuette’s office said. “Indeed, the evidence suggests that Ward was punished and ultimately dismissed from the program solely for her attempt to exercise disfavored religious beliefs, not for a violation of the code.”
According to The Detroit Free Press, “Judge George Steeh of the U.S. District Court in Detroit ruled for EMU last July, saying the school was within its rights to dismiss Ward for failing to follow its curriculum. The judge wrote that Ward ‘has distorted the facts in this case to support her position that defendants dismissed her due to her religious beliefs.’”