College denies admission to gay student

ST. LOUIS - A gay student from Hannibal-LaGrange University, located about 100 miles from St. Louis, says he was rejected for re-admission after officially coming out on Facebook and telling his friends, despite his orientation, he would "see them in heaven."

Hannibal-LaGrange University is a private Christian college that proudly states it upholds biblical views of marriage between a man and a woman. Its student code of conduct has a long list of rules including no sex, no tobacco, no demonstrations.

But when the university offered Chase Martinson an academic and athletic scholarship two years ago, he said yes.

"A lot of people say why would he want to go there in the first place? I had been there for two years. I had best friends that were there," said Martinson.

It appeared, he thrived at the university not only making friends but making the dean's list multiple times.

"In October of 2013, I dropped out due to illness. I reapplied a month and a half later," he said.

In January, the university welcomed him back with a formal notice. But by then, Martinson had come out as gay.

Two months later, he received a follow up letter saying his application was under review. So he called and was allegedly told by an administrator, "you were outside the school's moral guidelines."

After some reflection, Martinson says he asked the university to withdraw his application.

"It's like nothing I can control. It's not like doing an outward crime on campus. I can't help who I am," said Martinson.

"It's a private institution and so any constitutional protections for gay and lesbians do not apply to it," said Marcia McCormick, a constitutional law professor at Saint Louis University.

But what about federal statutes that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex and race?

"There is no federal statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or sexual identity," said McCormick.

Martinson, a nursing major, has been accepted to University of Missouri-St. Louis, and will begin in the fall.

A spokesperson for Hannibal-LaGrange University referred us to legal counsel who was unavailable until Thursday.

NewsChannel 5 also reached out to the ACLU. A spokesperson sent us the following statement:

"Neither Missouri nor federal law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. The ACLU of Missouri cannot comment on this particular case because we do not know all of the facts and this is a legally complicated issue that could implicate Title IX or Missouri's public accommodations laws.

"This situation demonstrates that in most instances, open discrimination against gays and lesbians remains legal in Missouri and highlights the need for the legislature to provide basic legal protections to gays, lesbians, and their families, which is something the ACLU is currently working toward. "


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