In Luke 20, Jesus says to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s. So the question is, are health care benefits for God or Caesar?
Baylor is currently denying benefits to spouses of employees in same-sex relationships, which has caused quite the uproar on campus in the past week. A petition has garnered more than 1,400 signatures in hopes of convincing the administration to reverse the policy. Count this editorial board in.
There are two questions that need to be confronted. One, is Baylor able to legally decline to provide benefits to spouses on the basis of sex? Two, is Baylor able to legally decline to provide benefits to spouses on the basis of religion?
The laws of man here are very clear in this instance. Obergefell v. Hodges, a 2015 Supreme Court case, struck down any law that denied the right of same-sex couples to marry. Bostock v. Clayton County, a 2020 Supreme Court case, deemed due to the “sex” portion of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
There are exceptions. The university is allowed to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion if its “purpose and character are primarily religious.” That’s the only time the exception applies though.
“The exemption applies to all positions; however, discrimination is not permitted on any basis other than religion,” the EEOC said. “In addition, the exemption only applies to hiring and discharge, and does not apply to terms, conditions or privileges of employment, such as wages or benefits.”
In March, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts potentially limited another avenue. The ministerial exception to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says that if an employee is a minister, religious institutions have more discriminatory power, but in DeWeese-Boyd v. Gordon College, et al., the court found on the side of an LGBTQ social work professor who said she had been discriminated against for a promotion.
If Gordon College attempts an appeal by the U.S. Supreme Court, the issue could be cemented against Baylor’s ideology. That leaves the administration two options: either start granting benefits to the admittedly small subsection of employees this applies to or stop hiring them at all.
The Board of Regents should take the first option. Faculty members are not asking to flaunt their sexuality on campus, and they aren’t able to do their job to any less of a standard because they love someone of the same sex. They just want to be able to provide for their partner like heterosexual couples are granted the ability to do.
Jesus sat with people he disagreed with at the time. He called everyone to his side. Employees work at Baylor because they believe in its mission. They trust in the Lord as much as anyone. Please, don’t discriminate against them any longer.