President Joe Biden came into office with a flurry of executive orders, including one that came in response to alleged discrimination based on gender and sexual identity. The action led to a February memo from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) spelling out how the order would be implemented via the enforcement of the Fair Housing Act.
Now, that HUD memo is being used against the government in a new lawsuit filed on behalf of a small Christian college in Missouri.
“Subject to fair housing laws”
According to BizPacReview, an attorney representing the school explained during a recent Fox News appearance that the measure would force biological men to share dorms and locker rooms with biological women. Ryan Bangert of Alliance Defending Freedom spoke with host Shannon Bream about the suit his firm has filed in support of the College of the Ozarks against what it views as an unconstitutional infringement on the school’s religious liberty.
Forbes referenced the lawsuit in a recent article, pointing out that since “colleges get government money through student loans, grants and contracts, they are subject to fair housing laws.”
Nevertheless, Bangert asserted that the “simple” motivation behind the lawsuit is that “the federal government shouldn’t be able to force young women to share their dorm rooms with males.”
He went on to describe the college behind the suit as “a small Christian school in southwest Missouri that has always integrated its faith into everything that it does.”
Pointing out a perceived inaccuracy in Forbes’ characterization of the issue, Banger noted that “even if the College of the Ozarks gave up every last penny of federal money that it receives, it would still be subject to this Fair Housing Act requirement that was imposed, really in the dead of night, by an administrative agency without any notice or comment to the public, without any participation by the players affected.”
“They could have tailored this rule”
Bream, for her part, asked if the HUD memo would truly result in federal prosecutions or if the lawsuit represented “hype” and “scaremongering” in response to the unlikely possibility of strict enforcement.
“I don’t think it’s hype or scaremongering at all,” Bangert replied, going on to note that the memo specifically stated that “enforcement actions could be taken based on complaints filed,” and that “charges should be brought” if federal bureaucrats determined there was merit to the complaints, according to Fox.
The Fox host countered his remarks by reading a portion of the memo and asserting that it likely sounded like a “laudable goal” to many Americans who might read it. Bream then asked her guest if he thought it was “possible” to balance the federal government’s goal of addressing discrimination with the concerns being expressed in the lawsuit.
“It’s absolutely possible, and I think that really points out the flaw in the way that the administration went about imposing this rule,” Bangert said, reiterating his concern that the memo had been drafted by unelected bureaucrats without providing public notice and a comment period.
“If the Housing and Urban Development team that put this out would have undertaken those processes, they could have tailored this rule in a much better way that would have respected the religious liberty interests of our client, as well as ensure that everyone has a roof over their head,” he concluded.