Massachusetts churches drop lawsuit

The churches gathered together by the so-called Alliance Defending Freedom to challenge the state's transgender legal protections are withdrawing their legal challenge.

Assured they can retain control over their bathrooms and changing facilities, and continue preaching an anti-transgender message if they choose to do so, pastors at four churches say they no longer plan to sue over the state’s trans protections bill.

The bill, which took effect in October, bans discrimination against trans people in public accommodations, like parks and restaurants. It also makes it illegal to keep people from using the bathroom of their choosing if they identify with a gender different from their biological sex.

In a November letter to the ADF legal team, [AG Maura Healey's] office indicated that church events would be exempt, although the updated guidelines do say that “religious facilities may qualify as places of public accommodation if they host a public, secular function.” The ADF is pleased with that clarification, which came amid arguments that the ban would violate the First Amendment if it applied on religious property.

Freedom Massachusetts, the group that had fought for passage of the bill, wrote in a statement on its website that it believed the ADF’s lawsuit to be “baseless” and that it, too, was pleased with the AG’s interpretation of the law. It also referred to the ADF as “a notorious anti-LGBT advocacy group, working nationwide to undermine the rights of gay and transgender Americans.”

We all value the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom...and we are glad to see ADF acknowledge today that the Commonwealth’s long standing nondiscrimination laws, including the transgender protections update, does nothing to infringe on the freedom of congregations, clergy, and people of faith to practice their beliefs.

--Kasey Suffredini, Freedom Massachusetts Education Fund

When an individual walks into the church, they are loved, they are welcomed, and my clients want them to be there. But when you walk through those doors you are a guest. And as a guest, then you need to use the church’s facilities in a way that is consistent with the church’s faith, and respectful of their beliefs.

--Christina Holcomb, ADF

We note that the ADF has never been respectful of the beliefs of transgender people about who we are.

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