Joanna Maxon is a 53-year-old lesbian who has two kids, apparently because she wasn’t always a lesbian. Maxon wanted to advance her studies, so she began to attend Fuller Theological Seminary. When her financial paperwork revealed that she was married to a woman, Fuller expelled her from the school. She’s now suing Fuller for discriminating against her sexual orientation while taking government money, thus – in her opinion – barring them from having moral standards.
One should add that Fuller is not exactly a bastion of theological conservatism. In fact, it is one of the most liberal seminaries in the United States. It’s a shock that Fuller expelled Maxon to begin with. Nonetheless, they did, and now the courts will decide what kind of damages they owe to the woman for expelling her just shy of graduation.
Maxon has notified Fuller via letter that she would like to discuss the “financial, emotional, and legal commitment to the person she loves” over coffee.
In an October response to Maxon’s letter, Fuller’s Dean, Marianne Meye Thompson said, “Whenever violations of our sexual standards are brought to Fuller’s leadership’s attention, we address them as dictated by our policies and procedures. I am instructing the registrar to dismiss you from the seminary, effective immediately.”
Good for Fuller.
In reality, however, Fuller’s liberal vibe means that the institution doesn’t actually have a policy against same-sex relationships and Maxon reports being open about her gay marriage in the classroom and being fully supported by students and faculty for years, which makes the expulsion difficult to explain.
The technicality is that Fuller doesn’t forbid “same-sex relationships” it does forbid sexual intimacy outside of a same-sex marriage. In other words, Fuller allows same-sex romantic relationships but doesn’t allow it to get sexual.
And as most readers are thinking, no, that doesn’t make sense.
Maxxon’s lawyer said, “It wasn’t just about money. It was about Fuller’s treating [LGBTQ students] with transparency. What’s happening with Joanna is going to keep happening more and more. Policies at these institutions have a real impact on people.”