By Tara Cavanaugh
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a March 11 statement that he supports the rights of an Eastern Michigan University graduate counseling student, Julea Ward, who was dismissed after she refused to counsel gays.
In 2009, EMU dismissed Ward and she filed suit against EMU in U.S. District Court, asking to be reinstated in the graduate program. Last month, the ACLU announced https://www.pridesource.com/article.html?article=45457 its support of EMU’s decision. Schuette’s office filed an amicus brief in support of Ward last week.
“The religious freedoms enshrined in our Constitution do not evaporate when you step on campus,” Schuette said in the statement. “Unless these freedoms are vigorously defended, it sets a dangerous precedent that threatens education for all students of faith. We must strongly defend and protect the rights of any citizen to ensure the rights of all citizens.”
The statement http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,1607,7-164-34739-252629–,00.html on Shuette’s website says that Ward “requested guidance about referring a client to a different counselor” and that “Ward was expelled even though the university had previously allowed students to make referrals without being subject to disciplinary action.”
EMU’s counseling program requires its graduate students to adhere to the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics, which prohibits counselors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or imposing their personal beliefs on clients.
Ward maintains that her 1st and 14th Amendment rights were violated. Oral arguments for the case will be set later this year.