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3 Christian schools shift their policies on homosexuality

With same-sex marriage now legal across the country, the question has surfaced about whether religious-affiliated schools will accommodate gay or lesbian students, staff and faculty who are married.

So far, three Christian higher education institutions — Hope College, Belmont University and Baylor University — have responded to the Supreme Court ruling with policy changes.

Hope College in Holland, Michigan, announced this week that it would extend spousal benefits to same-sex married couples, according to the Holland Sentinel.

"In employment policy and practice, Hope College has always followed the state's legal definition of marriage," school president, John Knapp, wrote in a statement. "Spouses are eligible for benefits, so long as their marriage is legally recognized the state of Michigan."

The private, Christian college is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, which has never supported same-sex marriage, according to statements on its website.

In addition to Hope, Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, will also be offering benefits to "all legally married couples," according to Christianity Today. This decision has come after the 2011 move adding sexual orientation to the university's nondiscrimination policy.

Same-sex couples will be receiving more than just employment benefits.

The University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's extended health care and other benefits to same-sex couples last year, after gay marriage was legalized in Indiana, according to the Daily Herald.

"Notre Dame is a Catholic university and endorses a Catholic view of marriage. However, it will follow the relevant civil law and begin to implement this change immediately," the university emailed to employees.

And on Tuesday, Baylor University — the world's largest Baptist university — dropped a ban on "homosexual acts" in its sexual conduct policy, according to the Houston Chronicle.

While before, Baylor's policy said homosexual acts were a misuse of "God's gift," it now says the university "will be guided by the biblical understanding that human sexuality is a gift from God and that physical sexual intimacy is to be expressed in the context of marital fidelity."

Other Christian colleges, however, will not be changing their policies, Christianity Today reported. These institutions include Fuller Seminary, Eastern Mennonite University, Gordon College, Westmont College, Wheaton College, Azusa Pacific University and Messiah College.

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