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Law Student Who Supported Gay Marriage Faced Expulsion From BYU

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on May 05, 2016 3:57 PM

When it comes to gay rights, the legal industry tends to be pretty supportive. Indeed, when gay marriage came before the Supreme Court last year, no major firms were willing to argue against gay equality.

But there are still places where the gay rights orthodoxy has not spread, and Brigham Young University is one of them, according to a former BYU law student. Brad Levin claims that, after writing a book on gay marriage and Mormonism during his 3L year, the school threatened him with expulsion if he didn't change his position.

You Can't Write That Here

BYU, a Mormon university owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is known for its conservatism. Applicants are required to have ecclesiastical endorsements to attend BYU, and many of the Mormon church's beliefs are enshrined in the school's honor code. Students can face discipline or expulsion for infractions like immodest dress and cursing. And, apparently, writing that Mormonism and gay marriage are not incompatible.

That, at least, is what Levin claims. During his final year at BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School, Levin penned a book that argued that same-sex marriage and the church's teachings could be reconciled. When a draft of the book circulated, "I was basically threatened with removal from the university if I went forward and took a public stance in favor of gay marriage," Levin recently told the website Fusion. "I was told that I had to change the contents of my book to be on the right side of the church."

BYU Law to Lose Accreditation?

Levin made the changes and graduated, but that hasn't been the end of his conflict with the university. After his brother was expelled from BYU for leaving the Mormon church, Levin founded Free BYU, an alumni group advocating for changes to the university's policy.

That group recently filed a complaint with the American Bar Association which could result in BYU's law school losing its accreditation. The complaint alleges that BYU's policy of expelling ex-Mormons and its ban on homosexuality violate the ABA's rules against discrimination based on religion and sexual orientation.

The complaint has already made it through preliminary review and is currently being considered by the ABA's accreditation committee.

In a fitting reversal of fortunes, it's now BYU Law that could be facing expulsion -- from the list of accredited law schools.

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