A nighttime image of Baylor University
A nighttime image of Baylor University (Flicker/Danny Huizinga)

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Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that state governments across the nation must issue and recognize same-sex marriages, some Christian colleges have begun to capitulate to the mounting pressure and change their policies regarding homosexuality.

Hope College—a Reformed Church in America (RCA)-affiliated school in Holland, Michigan—has announced that it will begin to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of its employees. Michigan, one of 14 states whose ban on same-sex marriage was still intact when the Supreme Court ruled on June 26, did not legally recognize those spousal relationships until the high court's decision.

"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," Vice President Jennifer Fellinger 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."

A similar situation is unfolded last year in South Bend, Indiana, where the University of Notre Dame is began to extend spousal benefits in the wake of a federal court overturning Indiana's prohibition on same-sex marriage.

"Notre Dame is a Catholic university and endorses a Catholic view of marriage," reads an email the university sent employees in the wake of that decision. "However, it will follow the relevant civil law and begin to implement this change immediately."

Nashville's Belmont University, a nondenominational university that requires its employees to uphold "Jesus as the Christ and as the measure of all things," is another school that has changed its policy toward same-sex marriage.

Belmont added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy in 2011 following a controversy with one if the university's coaching staff. Despite same-sex marriage being illegal in Tennessee until the Supreme Court's ruling, Belmont changed its spousal benefits policy to apply to "all legally married couples" in the build-up to the court's decision, a shift that has now streamlined the university's ability to grant benefits to same-sex couples.

Baylor University, the world's largest Baptist institution of higher learning, has also initiated a major policy change in removing "homosexual acts" from its list of punishable offenses in its sexual misconduct policies. "Fornication" and "adultery" remain in the prohibited list.

"These changes were made because we didn't believe the language reflected the university's caring community," Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman wrote in an email.

In stark counterpoint to Baylor's move, across the border in Canada, at least one Christian university is fighting the rising tide of "tolerance" over a similar policy. Trinity Western University is battling activists and courts to maintain its longstanding student code of conduct, which includes prohibitions on homosexual acts, among many other activities the school's leadership views as sinful.

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