HOLLAND, Mich. — Officials at a Christian college in Michigan state that they will now extend “marriage” benefits to their homosexual employees following the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring that all 50 states must legalize same-sex nuptials.
Hope College in Holland, Mich. recently announced its decision to the college community.
“In employment policy and practice, Hope College has always followed the state’s legal definition of marriage,” Hope College President John Knapp wrote in a statement. “Spouses are eligible for benefits, so long as their marriage is legally recognized the state of Michigan.”
But the college says that its beliefs about homosexuality being a violation of God’s law have not changed, and it will not allow its chapel to be used for same-sex ceremonies.
“Hope College does not discriminate in employment policy and practices on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status, and the school does not intend to start doing so now,” Jennifer Fellinger, Vice President for Public Affairs and Marketing, told the Holland Sentinel. “As it has in the past, Hope College welcomes students, staff and faculty based on their ability to contribute to the life of the college, not on their sexual orientation or marital status.”
Hope College is a part of the Reformed Church of America, and its website outlines that students “are educated to think about life’s most important issues with clarity, wisdom, and a deep understanding of the foundational commitments of the historic Christian faith.”
Belmont University, a nondenominational school that was formerly a part of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, says that it already began offering benefits even before the ruling. The university added “sexual orientation” to its non-discrimination policy in 2011.
Other religious schools have taken similar moves, such as the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, which extended health care and other benefits to the “spouses” of homosexual employees after the state legalized same-sex nuptials.
“Notre Dame is a Catholic university and endorses a Catholic view of marriage. However, it will follow the relevant civil law and begin to implement this change immediately,” the university wrote to employees last October.
Hope College’s president says that he understands that there are those who will disagree with the school’s decision to extend “marriage” benefits to homosexual employees.
“Here at Hope College we are a family of Christians who hold diverse and often conflicting points of view,” Knapp wrote in his statement. “We understand that the new legal definition of marriage is an intensely heartfelt matter for many. We also recognize that not everyone will agree with decisions that have been made; that is to be expected.”
Several other Christian institutions have stated that no changes will take place in light of the Supreme Court ruling, including Fuller Seminary, Eastern Mennonite University, Gordon College, Westmont College, Wheaton College, Azusa Pacific University and Messiah College.