A federal judge has ordered bureaucrats at a Chicago-area community college to stop ignoring the First Amendment and allow a stridently anti-gay group to distribute leaflets on campus.
The slapped-down school is Waubonsee Community College (WCC) on the far western fringes of Chicago’s western suburbs, Inside Higher Ed reports.
The taxpayer-funded school has established anti-bias policies which, its attorneys attempted to argue, prohibit any discrimination against sexual orientation. Thus, administration officials reasoned, opponents of homosexuality could not speak on the public campus because it might lead to “unlawful hostility.”
The victorious plaintiff in the lawsuit is Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment (HOME), a nonprofit also located in the suburbs of Chicago that vociferously opposes homosexual and lesbian behavior.
Federal district Judge Robert W. Gettleman ordered Waubonsee officials to establish “a reasonable time, place, and manner for” leaflet distribution that does not run afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s clear prohibition against laws “abridging the freedom of speech.”
HOME had sought and failed to receive permission fron Waubsonsee officials to hand out two leaflets: “The Uncensored Truth About Homosexuality” and “Gay Activism and Freedom of Speech and Religion.”
One flyer notes that “[m]ale homosexuals have significantly higher rates of AIDS, anal cancer, syphilis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, anorectal herpes simplex infection, anorectal sepsis, amoebiasis, giardiasis, proctitis, enteritis, colitis, and proctocolitis compared to heterosexual men.”
The same flyer also argues that “many homosexuals were sexually abused when young” and opines that “the more homosexuals there are in the world the fewer potential mates for heterosexuals. And why would straight people want their choices of potential mates limited (especially by immoral lifestyles)?”
A second flyer chides the politically correct culture on American campuses that does not allow unpopular groups like HOME to make public arguments.
Judge Gettleman agreed that HOME’s leaflets definitely violate the anti-bias policies at Waubonsee Community College .
The problem, the Clinton appointee observed, is that the anti-bias polices are blatantly unconstitutional.
“Reliance on WCC’s anti-discrimination policy to bar plaintiffs from leafleting controverts defendant’s argument that the decision to reject plaintiffs’ request was content-neutral,” Gettleman wrote. “Instead, the content of plaintiffs’ speech, which the school considered to violate its anti-discrimination policy, was the precise basis for WCC’s decision. Consequently, the court finds that defendant discriminated against plaintiffs based on the content of their speech.”
Among the judge’s footnotes was the observation that “popular ideas” do not need First Amendment protection. “It is unpopular, even offensive, ideas that our most closely held constitutional right seeks to shelter,” he wrote.
The Rutherford Institute has Judge Gettleman’s full, 13-page opinion and order.