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Belmont University In Discussion on Campus Gay Policy

Belmont University In Discussion on Campus Gay Policy

Belmont University, which was caught in a firestorm last month over the departure of its lesbian soccer coach, may change its policy on openly gay groups on campus.

On Monday, the leader of a student group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights told WSMV-TV, an NBC affiliate in Nashville, that he expects the university to officially recognize the group soon.

Robbie Maris, president of the BridgeBuilders, said this will be the group's third time to apply as a student group after being turned down twice by the private Christian university.

Belmont's position on sexual orientation has been under close scrutiny after soccer coach Lisa Howe left her post on Dec. 2. While she has not offered a reason as to why she left, members of her soccer team contended she was pressured into resigning after she announced that she was expecting a baby with her same-sex partner.

Bob Fisher, the university's president, has maintained that sexual orientation plays no role in any employment decisions at Belmont.

According to Maris, the public exit of Howe has accelerated talks between gay rights groups and administrators. He also believes the university might soon add sexual orientation to its discrimination ban policy.

The discussion over sexual orientation resurfaced this week as the university hosts its annual "Sex and the Soul Week," planned months before the controversy surrounding Howe's departure.

Andrew Marin, president of The Marin Foundation, which seeks to bridge the divide between LGBT and religious communities, spoke Monday as one of the featured speakers. He is also the author ofLove is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community.

On Tuesday evening, he will deliver a lecture entitled "Love is an Orientation."

Marin also plans to hold individual meetings with the gay rights group, faculty and administrators this week to discuss the school's policy towards gay groups. He then plans to hold a joint meeting between the parties, according to WSMV-TV.

Belmont spokesperson Greg Pillon told The Christian Post over the phone that there have been internal talks on the issue but wouldn't go into details.

The Christian Post sent an email to Pillon seeking comment on whether the university is holding internal discussions with Marin to consider adding sexual orientation to the school's discrimination policy or whether the university is moving towards recognizing BridgeBuilders as an official group.

Pillon replied with a statement from the school's news release, which said that the events of the Sex & Soul Week "represent one phase of Belmont's ongoing, university-wide conversation regarding the campus culture and the university's Christian mission in regard to sexual orientation."

Belmont was affiliated with the conservative Southern Baptist Convention until 2007, when it severed ties with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Earlier this year, SBC delegates passed a resolution opposing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, proposed in the U.S. Congress, which would make it illegal for employers to make decisions on hiring, firing, promoting or paying an employee based on sexual orientation.

Christian Post reporter Katherine T. Phan contributed to this report.

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