Massachusetts churches sue state over new transgender law

Conservative Christian nonprofit group, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday challenging a new Massachusetts law prohibiting discrimination against transgender persons in public facilities.

ADF is representing four churches in Massachusetts which would be forced to allow transgenders to use the bathroom, shower and locker room of their choice.  The bill in question was signed into law by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in July and went into effect earlier in October, requiring public places to accommodate people who do not identify with their biological gender.

Democratic state Attorney General Maura Healey and board members of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination were named as defendants in the lawsuit.

“(These churches) believe the bible teaches that God created each person as immutably male or female and that promotes human flourishing and that’s good and they want to use their houses of worship to reflect and reinforce what they teach from the pulpit,” said ADF legal counsel Christina Holcomb.

“We absolutely think that what the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is doing here violates the first amendment and everything our country was founded upon,” she added.

ADF’s lawsuit argues that defendants “also intend to forces churches and pastors to refrain from religious expression regarding sexuality that conflicts with the government’s views.”

Religious facilities are included in the law’s definition of a public place if they host a “secular event” that is open to the general population, according to guidance published by the Commission in September.

However, supporters of the new law say that the majority of Bay Staters are in favor of protecting transgender rights, including much of the religious community.

“Hundreds of faith leaders and communities spoke out in strong support of the transgender protections law this year,” bipartisan coalition Freedom Massachusetts said in a statement. “This lawsuit is no more than a last-ditch scare tactic to single out transgender people for attack.”

If ADF’s lawsuit fails, those in opposition will have another chance in November 2018 when a state-wide initiative to repeal the law will be put on the ballot for a vote.

 

[AP via ABC News] [Fox 25 News WFXT-Boston] [Daily Caller] [Photo courtesy CBS News]