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Bobak Ha'Eri - CC BY 3.0
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World News

Students sue Christian seminary for $1m over same-sex marriage expulsion

by Heather Preston

America's largest interdenominational Christian theology school is being sued.

Two former students are taking legal action against the Fuller Theological Seminary after been expelled for being in same-sex marriages.

Nathan Brittsan, an American Baptist Churches USA minister, and Joanna Maxon, a former Fuller student claim the college's actions violate anti-discrimination laws as they were both in same-sex relationships. 

The pair are requesting over $1million each in compensation.

The suit is believed to be the first of its kind and its outcome could lead to wider implications for other government funded Christian colleges and universities in the country according to Maxon's attorney.

Maxon filed her original lawsuit in November, after her marriage to another woman became known by school administrators.

She was expelled in 2018, during her final semester of study.

Brittsan joined the lawsuit on 7th January.

He received a letter of dismissal in 2017, two days before beginning his first year of classes.

The dean informed him that administrators had discovered his same-sex marriage following his request to change his last name.

Brittsan also disclosed his marriage to another dean and a professor, but the suit says that he "was not informed that this discussion was actually part of an initial inquiry or investigation by Fuller into Nathan's perceived community standards violation".

Brittsan allegedly made two attempts to appeal the decision, and asked for his disciplinary procedure records on multiple occasions.

According to his lawyer, Brittsan wanted to appeal his expulsion to the Board of Trustees, but was unable to without documentation of his disciplinary records. 

Christianity Today reported that Brittsan filed a complaint with the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights to obtain disciplinary records in January 2018, but still has not seen them.

Fuller's sexual standard's policy states: "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. 

"The seminary believes premarital, extramarital, and homosexual forms of explicit sexual conduct to be inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture. Consequently, the seminary expects all members of its community--students, faculty, administrators/managers, staff, and trustees--to abstain from what it holds to be unbiblical sexual practices."

The suit argues that Fuller Theological Seminary is in violation of LGBT discrimination laws.

The seminary has two weeks to respond to the complaint.


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