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ACLU urges Bob McDonnell to block bills allowing college groups to discriminate

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Local,Virginia,Education,Steve Contorno

The American Civil Liberties Union is lobbying Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to veto a pair of bills that would allow college groups to block members who don't align with their beliefs, paving the way for Christian organizations to keep gay students out.

In a letter sent Friday to McDonnell, ACLU Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastanaga said the two identical bills would harbor discrimination. The bills ban state universities and colleges from refusing to financially support registered student organizations who wish to bar membership from students who aren't committed to the mission.

"[The bills] are not necessary to protect student free speech or associational rights, and college and universities should not be required to fund and lend their names to discriminatory acts," Gastanaga wrote. "Without this legislation, student organizations that wish to discriminate are free to do so and to do so on college campuses. They just won't be entitled to be funded by state tax dollars or student fees to engage in discriminatory conduct."

Both Republican-backed bills passed the General Assembly with some Democratic support.

McDonnell has not said whether he supports the measure. Hundreds of bills still await his action.

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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