GAY RIGHTS COALITION v. GEORGETOWN UNIV.
536 A.2d 1 (1987)
District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Argued en banc October 16, 1985.
I adopt the holdings of Judge Mack's opinion, but write briefly to make clear what I perceive to be the effect of our decision.
Initially, we are met with the threshold question of whether we can reconcile the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, D.C. Code § 1-2520 (1981), with competing constitutional protections without declaring the Act invalid. Although we inevitably must invoke constitutional principles in order to decide critical questions, I agree that we legitimately accomplish our task here by a construction of the Act, which does not require us to rule it, or any part of it, invalid.
Balancing the governmental interest in deterring unlawful institutional discriminatory practices, against the University's own rights under the free exercise clause of the first amendment, I conclude, in the present circumstances, that nothing in the Act requires the University, over its constitutional objections, to publicly associate itself or affirmatively support the goals or activities of the gay student organizations. There is no compelling reason to require the University to do so. Nor is it unlawfully discriminatory for the University to fail to do so.
The consequence of this holding necessarily means that Georgetown's refusal to allow the student groups to use its name is not unlawful discrimination. For the same reasons, the student groups cannot demand the grant of University funds for the advocacy of its causes. In the circumstances, compelled financial support amounts to compelled affirmative support. Again, the failure to so act does not constitute unlawful discrimination and does not violate the Act.
There remains, of course, the question of what tangible facilities the University may grant or deny. Conceptually there is a critical difference between the premise that Georgetown should not be compelled to publicly adopt or support the activities of the groups, as contrasted to allowing the use, as is so with other student groups, of basic facilities available to other members of the University community. Thus, the fair access to meeting halls and related basic needs would not, in my opinion, intrude unduly upon the University's rights.
Lastly, I would observe that our Human Rights Act is broad and comprehensive. It covers a wide range of possible discriminatory practices. Necessarily our decisions will reflect the nature of the asserted discrimination, the presence or absence of historic conditions which surround the question, legislative intent, and case precedent. For me, the decision in this instance reflects those considerations and does not, in any way, signal a weakening of the purposes the Act was intended to serve.
NEWMAN, Associate Judge, concurring, with whom Associate Judges MACK, FERREN and TERRY, join as to Part VI:
I join the court's conclusions that Georgetown University has violated the District of Columbia Human Rights Act by denying the tangible benefits associated with "University Recognition" to the student groups Gay People of Georgetown University (GPGU) and Gay Rights Coalition (GRC) on the prohibited ground of their sexual orientation, and that the University's free exercise defense is of no avail. I write separately to clarify the court's holding as I understand it, and to differ with the approach of the lead opinion (authored by Judge Mack) to analyzing the free exercise claim.