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Lawyer: LGBTQ Suit Against Fuller Seminary Isn’t Really About Discrimination, It’s About Religious Freedom

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PASADENA NEWS NOW — A lawyer for Fuller Seminary said that a lawsuit filed by two students kicked out of the school because they are involved in same-sex marriages is about religious freedoms without government interference.

In a federal lawsuit Joanna Maxon and Nathan Brittsan claim their civil rights were violated and they suffered emotional distress when they were expelled from the school. They are asking for $2 million.

“Fuller trains students to be Christian leaders,” said Daniel Blomberg, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

“This case is about whether religious groups get to decide how to train their religious leaders, free from government entanglement.”

Maxon was kicked out of the seminary in 2019 in a letter from defendant Director Nicole Boymook, for violation of the Sexual Standards component of the Fuller’s Community Standards. Brittsan was expelled in September 2017 on the basis of a violation of sexual standards of Fuller’s Community Standards. He was added to the lawsuit earlier this week.

According to the college’s website, “Fuller Theological Seminary believes that sexual union must be reserved for marriage, which is the covenant union between one man and one woman, and that sexual abstinence is required for the unmarried.”

When asked if any other LGBTQ students were kicked out of the seminary or any heterosexual students were removed for having sex before marriage, which Christians say the Bible also identifies as sin, Blomberg would not answer.

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“Fuller Theological does not generally publish that sort of sensitive information,” Blomberg said.

However, Maxon and Brittsan’s attorney Paul Southwick said that a student accused of having a heterosexual extramarital affair was allowed to remain in the seminary.

At the time Maxon enrolled in 2015 she was married to a man and agreed to follow the college’s code of conduct, including those regarding sexual standards.

But sometime before she began her first class, her marriage ended and Maxon began dating a woman.

She married her wife after the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2016. She authorized the release of her tax returns during a review of her financial aid.

During that review, college officials discovered she was married to a woman and she was expelled from the college.

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