Georgetown University was sued by various homosexual student groups for its refusal to officially recognize them. The students cited the District of Columbia "Civil Rights Act" which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation by any educational institution within the District.
The University (a private Catholic educational institution) argued that recognition of the groups would violate its constitutional right to religious freedom since recognition would imply endorsement of conduct contrary to Catholic doctrine.
The court concluded that the District's Civil Rights Act did not require that a private religious university recognize a student group whose beliefs and practices were contrary to church teachings. However, it held that the Act did require equal access to University facilities and services, and, since the University denied the homosexual groups certain services (a mailbox, computer labeling, mailing services, and the right to apply for funding), it was in violation of the Act.
The court found that any burden on the University's religious freedom that might result from providing these incidental services was so minimal that it was overridden by the compelling governmental interest of eradicating discrimination. Gay Rights Coalition v. Georgetown University, 536 A.2d 1 (D.C. App. 1987)