CT Daily

Appellate Court Sends Ward v. Wilbanks Back to District Court

February 1, 2012

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling in Ward v. Wilbanks on Friday, January 27, sending the case back to district court for a jury trial.

The case has been closely followed by the counseling profession as it revolves around non-discrimination toward clients. Julea Ward, a former counseling student at Eastern Michigan University (EMU), refused to counsel a gay practicum client. After remediation efforts failed, Ms. Ward was dismissed from the counseling program. She then sued the EMU counseling program faculty and the university claiming that her first amendment right to practice her religion were being infringed upon.

The case was originally decided in July with district court Judge George Steeh ruling in favor of EMU. ACA provided expert testimony in the case, and the ACA report was quoted by Judge Steeh in his summary judgment. Ms. Ward filed an appeal in the sixth circuit court. ACA filed an amicus brief supporting the original ruling and the denial of the motion to appeal. The complete 23 page ACA amicus brief is available here.

In issuing its ruling, the circuit court stated that its decision did not constitute a statement that Ms. Ward should prevail, but rather that the case merited a jury trial rather than a summary judgment. The complete circuit court ruling is available here.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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  1. conservative rambo

    I’m so glad to hear that the Court of Appeals has refused to rehear the case. It sends a powerful message: you can be gay but you can’t force American citizens to accept your lifestyle.

    1. GAY Rambo

      Dear Conservative Rambo,
      Being gay is not a lifestyle, it is an identity just as heterosexuality is an identity not a lifestyle. If Ms. Ward wants to use religion to do her dirty work, she should first understand where her beliefs come from. Since the bible was written by humans it is set within a historical context. We all know that historical context is important, because it points out why we said or did certain things. A man who lies with another man (gay men) was considered an abomination, because to not procreate was to go against the very important task of rebuilding the population (lack of life expectancy was obviously short due to lack of science). So, if the bible were written today, men who have sex with men would not be a sin because we have way too many people on this planet. Nevertheless, being gay is not a lifestyle. Sadly, I cannot say the same about the lifestyle you have chosen for yourself: ignorant.

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