A homosexual couple has sued a Christian preschool in New Mexico after the school had accepted the three-year-old boy the two men are raising as their son, only to reject the child later. In their complaint the two men, Joseph Romero and John Keelin, allege that officials at Hope Christian School in Albuquerque first accepted their three-year-old son, then sent them a denial letter when the school realized the boy's parents were homosexual.
In the lawsuit, the two men claim that they “were even told that a new student packet has been prepared for him and that the school was expecting to get acceptance letters out the following week.” But shortly after that notification, the two “received a denial letter on April 16, 2010,” the complaint continues. “Upon further inquiry, the school sent a letter dated June 13, 2012 to plaintiffs' attorney. The letter indicated that the school denied admission to plaintiffs' son because plaintiffs were a same gender couple and that, as a result, their home was inconsistent with the school's beliefs.”
The letter from the school informed the homosexual men that “same gender couples are inconsistent with scriptural lifestyle and biblical teachings,” citing Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. The letter pointed out that their home life “doesn’t reflect the school’s belief of what a Biblical family lifestyle is.” The letter also explained that because the two parties were not in agreement on the issue of homosexuality, the educational relationship would be next to impossible, and cited the scripture Amos 3:3, “How can two walk together unless they be agreed?”
On its website, Hope Christian School explains that admission “is open to students of any race, color, or ethnic origin who are looking for a Christian environment with an emphasis on teaching Biblical principles and truths along with strong academics.”
Romero and Keelin filed suit under the state's Human Rights Act, an increasingly common tactic for homosexuals who have been rebuffed by private businesses and organizations that oppose same-sex partnerships on moral and religious grounds. According to Courthouse News Service, the two men are suing the school for “equitable relief, including their son's acceptance into the school, and compensatory and punitive damages.”
While the state's human rights measure allows churches and other religious institutions to discriminate based on their convictions, private schools such as Hope are non-profits that provide “public accommodation” and thus give up their rights to make such distinctions. Additionally, according to the Albuquerque Journal, Hope Christian School received $61,455 in government funding for the 2012 budget year. Peter Simonson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, argued that the funding violates the First Amendment's supposed establishment clause. “We don’t think organizations that use religion to discriminate should receive any government money,” he said.
Earlier this year a lesbian couple was successful in their civil rights complaint against a New Mexico photography studio that refused to photograph the couple's same-sex commitment ceremony. For that refusal, Elaine and John Huguenin, owners of Elaine’s Photography, were fined nearly $7,000 by the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission. New Mexico's Human Rights Act forbids “any person in any public accommodation to make a distinction, directly or indirectly, in offering or refusing to offer its services … to any person because of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, spousal affiliation, or physical or mental handicap.”
In a similar case, last month a human rights commission in Lexington, Kentucky, ruled against a local t-shirt company after its owner refused to produce shirts promoting a local homosexual “pride” event. As reported by The New American magazine, in March Lexington’s Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) filed a discrimination complaint against the family-owned company, Hands On Originals, alleging that the firm had bid on producing the shirts, but when it was selected its owners changed their minds, explaining that their Christian values made them unable to fill the order for the gay-themed apparel.
Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands On Originals, explained that he was not immediately aware that he was bidding on a job that violated his values. When that truth came to light, he graciously told the group that he could not produce the shirts, but offered to find another company who would do the job at the price he had quoted.
That concession as not enough, and the group filed a complaint, claiming its civil rights had been violated. In November, the Lexington Human Rights Commission sided with the GLSO, finding that the the shirt company had “violated the city's fairness ordinance, part of which prohibits businesses open to the public from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation,” reported the Lexington Herald-Leader. “The commission also noted the company should stop 'discriminating because of sexual orientation.'”
As for such supposed discrimination, in the hearing Hands On Originals noted that it employs homosexuals and “has filled past orders for customers who it knew identified as homosexual.”
Owner Blaine Adamson said that “I want the truth to come out. It’s not that we have a sign on the front door that says, ‘No Gays Allowed.' We’ll work with anybody. But if there’s a specific message that conflicts with my convictions, then I can’t promote that.”