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Faith Leaders on Opposite Sides of Transgender Anti-Discrimination Law

Faith and civil rights leaders responded (Thursday) to a lawsuit filed on behalf of four Massachusetts churches that says the state's Transgender Anti-Discrimination Law forces them to violate core beliefs. (AxelBoldt/wikimedia)
Faith and civil rights leaders responded (Thursday) to a lawsuit filed on behalf of four Massachusetts churches that says the state's Transgender Anti-Discrimination Law forces them to violate core beliefs. (AxelBoldt/wikimedia)
October 14, 2016

BOSTON – Faith and civil rights leaders responded to the lawsuit filed on behalf of four local churches that allege the state's Transgender Anti-Discrimination Law forces them to violate their core beliefs.

The law took effect on Oct. 1 and allows, among other things, people to use the bathrooms or locker rooms that correspond with their gender identities.

Reverend Courtney Jones, associate pastor at Hope Central Church in Jamaica Plain, defended the new law, saying it is in keeping with her beliefs and those of her congregation.

"We believe that all people are made in God's image," she said. "This is important because it cannot deny any person equal treatment, fair treatment under the law; it's a moral issue, it's a spiritual issue."

The churches on the opposing side are asking for a temporary injunction to block the law as it applies to churches while the case is pending, and the state Attorney General is reviewing the challenge.

The Horizon Christian Fellowship Church in Fitchburg is among those that joined the lawsuit. The church referred all calls to the Alliance Defending Freedom, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, which filed the case. ADF attorney Christiana Holcomb said the suit aims to prevent the state from forcing churches to violate their core beliefs.

"My client believes that the Bible teaches God created each person as either immutably male or immutably female; and so for the government to come in and say you are no longer allowed to have sex-specific sensitive areas, that violates the core beliefs of my clients," she explained.

The Transgender Anti-Discrimination Law also is under threat by a ballot initiative to be decided in 2018 which calls for repealing the law.

Jones said she's a little surprised at all these challenges, because the Bay State usually puts a high value on freedom.

"But more than surprising me or not surprising me, it just makes me incredibly sad, because it is such an incredible next step for everyone having freedom in our state," Jones added.

In defense of the measure, a spokesperson for the attorney general said, "This law is about civil rights and is critical for people who were without full protection and equality under the law for too long."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA