Over the past two months, we’ve written lots and lots about the news coverage of a California bill that would strip several dozen private Christian colleges and universities of the ability to enforce the doctrinal and lifestyle covenants at the heart of their identities. As recently as Tuesday, an interfaith coalition including Muslim and Jewish leaders as well as evangelical heavyweights Rick Warren and Russell Moore had denounced Senate Bill 1146 as a death knell to religious freedom.
Not to be outdone, Archdiocese of Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez and Bishop Charles Blake, presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ, turned to Fox News to claim that Lara’s bill would hurt minorities and the poor. Coming from the region’s two preeminent Hispanic and black leaders, the Gomez/Blake combo was a powerful one-two punch.
Unable to fight on all these fronts, Ricardo Lara, the state senator behind it all who is pictured above, backed down on Wednesday. For now. As the Los Angeles Times explains it:
Faced with intense opposition from religious colleges in California, a state Senator said Wednesday he has decided to amend a bill by dropping a provision that would have allowed gay and transgender students to more easily sue private universities for discrimination if they are disciplined for violating church teachings.
Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) is removing a provision of his bill that sought to take away the exemption of religious schools to anti-discrimination laws. Instead, he will press forward with the amended bill that would still require such schools to disclose if they have an exemption and report to the state when students are expelled for violating morality codes.
“The goal for me has always been to shed the light on the appalling and unacceptable discrimination against LGBT students at these private religious institutions throughout California,” Lara said.