Churches Sue for the Right to Discriminate in Massachusetts
By Transgender Universe
The Massachusetts House and Senate passed the new anti-discrimination law in July and it bars discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations while also giving transgender people the right to use the public restrooms and locker rooms that are consistent with their gender identities, regardless of their assigned sex at birth. Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill into law after a compromise was made where guidelines were added for law enforcement regarding how to handle “improper” claims of gender identity.
THE ADF CLAIMS THE CHURCHES HAVE A RIGHT TO OPERATE THEIR FACILITIES “IN A MANNER THAT DOESN’T VIOLATE THEIR CORE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a well-documented transgender hate group from Arizona, is now suing the state on the behalf of the four churches. The churches suing the state are Horizon Christian Fellowship, Abundant Life Church, House of Destiny Ministries and Faith Christian Fellowship. The ADF claims the churches have a right to operate their facilities “in a manner that doesn’t violate their core religious beliefs.” The lawsuit names Democratic state Attorney General Maura Healey and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination as defendants.
The ADF also claims the law prohibits covered entities from making statements intended to discriminate or to incite others to do so, meaning they are suing because it is illegal for them to discriminate against transgender people. They would like to be allowed to do so because of their deeply held religious beliefs regarding human sexuality. “The Churches’ policies and practices regarding access to their changing rooms and restrooms flow logically and directly from their religious beliefs concerning God’s design for biological sex,” the lawsuit says.
Christiana Holcomb, legal council for Alliance Defending Freedom, claims the law violates the religious freedom of the churches and the freedom of speech of pastors. “The commonwealth of Massachusetts right now is threatening pastors and churches with fines and even jail time for operating consistently with their beliefs about biological sex,” Holcomb told Mass Live. “That’s a violation of our First Amendment rights.”
“WE ARE PLEASED THAT WE FINALLY HAVE A LAW IN PLACE THAT PROTECTS TRANSGENDER PEOPLE FROM DISCRIMINATION IN PUBLIC PLACES.”
Though she would not comment directly regarding the suit, Jillian Fennimore, a spokeswoman for Healey’s office, did issue a statement. “We are pleased that we finally have a law in place that protects transgender people from discrimination in public places. This law is about civil rights and is critical for people who were without full protection and equality under the law for too long,” Fennimore said.
The ADF has requested an injunction to suspend enforcement of the law against the churches while their lawsuit proceeds. In addition to the suit in Massachusetts they recently filed a similar action against a school district in Minnesota.