Lambda Legal, a homosexual agenda legal advocacy group, recently sent a solicitation letter that seriously distorts one of Alliance Defense Fund's public university cases in an attempt to drum up funding. The case, Julea Ward v. Wilbanks, involves Eastern Michigan University’s expulsion of Ms. Ward (a 3.91 GPA student who was a few courses away from graduating) from its counseling program due to her religious beliefs regarding homosexual behavior.
Lambda’s letter claims that Ms. Ward “demanded to refer a gay client she had been assigned randomly as part of her course work, and refused to counsel any gay or lesbian clients in the future.” This is simply not true. Ms. Ward did not “demand” anything, but rather recognized a potential values conflict with the client and asked her supervisor what to do. Her supervisor told her to refer the client, and she did, prior to ever meeting the client. This supervisor-directed referral was consistent with EMU’s teaching that there are times where values conflicts with clients will result in referrals. One EMU text even highlighted a study where 40% of counselors had to refer clients over a conflict involving sexual values/practices, which is precisely the conflict Ms. Ward faced.
In addition, Ms. Ward’s values conflict did not arise because the client was gay, as the Lambda letter suggests, but because the client was seeking assistance on a homosexual relationship. Eastern Michigan requires students to affirm and validate homosexual relationships and behavior when counseling gay clients on same-sex relationship and behavior issues. This gay-affirmative message violated Ms. Ward’s religious beliefs. This was the source of Ms. Ward’s values conflict, not that the client was gay. In fact, there is a plethora of evidence in the record that Ms. Ward would counsel clients identifying as homosexual on any issue that did not require her to affirm their homosexual relationships or behavior. So Lambda’s claim that Ms. Ward would “refuse to counsel any gay or lesbian clients in the future” is simply false.
Lambda’s claim that Ms. Ward targets gays and lesbians is also refuted by the fact that her objection to affirming sexual relationships that contravene biblical teachings would prevent her from counseling homosexual and heterosexual couples involved in immoral sexual relationships. There is simply no targeting of gays going on here. Ms. Ward would have faced, and raised, the same values conflict if the client was a heterosexual man seeking affirmation of a non-marital sexual relationship with a female.
Non-profit advocacy groups often raise funds by highlighting the actions of groups their donors oppose, and I have no gripe with Lambda highlighting Julea Ward’s important civil rights case to its donors. In fact, it could be viewed as a form of flattery that Lambda’s letter spills most of its ink on ADF cases. My problem is with the letter’s complete misrepresentation of Ms. Ward’s case (there appear to be other inaccuracies in the letter that exceed the scope of this post). The unadulterated story of Ms. Ward’s expulsion is primarily captured in the transcript of her final disciplinary hearing, which includes one of her professors taking her on a “theological bout” (his words, not mine) in which he questioned her understanding of her own religious beliefs. This is stunning (and unconstitutional) conduct. I can only hope that some of the folks who received Lambda's letter will read this post and review the transcript so they can understand the true nature of Ms. Ward’s case.