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Senator Lara to Strip SB 1146 of Language Threatening Religious Liberty at Thomas Aquinas College and Other Religious Colleges

August 11, 2016
10,000 Ojai Road
Santa Paula CA 93060
Contact: Anne Forsyth, Director of College Relations
(805) 525-4417      


Senator Lara to Strip SB 1146 of 
Language Threatening Religious Liberty 
at Thomas Aquinas College 
and Other Religious Colleges


SANTA PAULA, CA—August 11—According to the Los Angeles Times, State Senator Ricardo Lara, sponsor of Senate Bill 1146, has reportedly agreed to strip his controversial legislation of key provisions that threatened the religious liberty of California’s religious colleges and universities.

“We are grateful to all the interfaith leaders of religious schools and organizations in California and across the country who voiced their opposition to this bill, as well as to friends of the College who petitioned their legislators and prayed for a favorable outcome,” says Thomas Aquinas College president Dr. Michael F. McLean. “We are also grateful to Senator Lara for taking seriously the concerns of his constituents, and we hope that, moving forward, he and his fellow lawmakers will continue to respect the religious liberty of private colleges and universities.”

Thomas Aquinas College has rules of residence that accord with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, including a prohibition of dorm visitation by members of the opposite sex. If passed in its original form, however, SB 1146 would have compelled all colleges and universities — religious and secular — to provide housing for “transgendered students” in dormitories of their choice, regardless of their biological gender, or else face the threat of crippling litigation. The bill also would have penalized students at Thomas Aquinas College, or any other institution that holds to traditional religious views on marriage and sexuality, by barring them from participation in the Cal Grant program, which offers significant tuition assistance to members of low-income families.

On Wednesday, Senator Lara and his staff met with Kristen F. Soares and Erica M. Romero, president and vice president, respectively, of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. According to Ms. Soares and Ms. Romero, the senator gave them his assurance that he would remove the offending language from SB 1146, and said he would inform the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which was set to consider the bill today, of his amendments. This news came soon after friends of the College had begun petitioning St. Michael for his intercession.

“We are very pleased with the apparent resolution to this controversy, not only for the sake of Thomas Aquinas College and our students, but also because we seem to have averted a dangerous precedent that would have compromised the religious liberty of all Americans,” says Dr. McLean. “We ask now that all pray again — this time a prayer of thanksgiving!”

About Thomas Aquinas College

Thomas Aquinas College has developed a solid reputation for academic excellence in the United States and abroad. At Thomas Aquinas College, there are no majors, no minors, or electives because all students acquire a broad and fully integrated liberal education. The College offers one 4-year, classical curriculum that spans the major arts and sciences. Instead of reading textbooks, students read the original works of the greatest thinkers in Western civilization — the Great Books — in all the major disciplines: mathematics, natural science, literature, philosophy, and theology. Rather than listening to lectures, they engage in rigorous Socratic discussions about these works in classes of 15-18 students. The academic life of the college is conducted under the light of the Catholic faith and flourishes within a close-knit community, supported by a vibrant spiritual life. Genuinely committed to upholding civic virtue and leading lives dedicated to the good of others, Thomas Aquinas College graduates enter a wide array of fields where they are a powerful force for good in the Church and in the culture. Well-versed in rational discourse, they become leaders in education, law, medicine, journalism, public policy, military service, and business. In addition, a steady 10% of alumni go on to the priesthood or religious life.