Churches drop lawsuit which argued that trans discrimination protection violated their rights
Four churches in Massachusetts have dropped a lawsuit arguing that a law protecting trans people against discrimination violates their freedom of religion rights.
The churches released a statement on Monday stating that they had withdrawn their claim.
Supporters of the churches claimed that the lawsuit had prompted officials in the state “to admit that the First Amendment protects a church’s freedom to operate consistently with its faith.”
But despite clarifying the existing law, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office said the lawsuit had never been necessary.
The state-wide law was enacted in July and took effect in October. It bans discrimination against trans people in “places of public accommodation”.
This includes restaurants and malls, and protects the rights of transgender people who wish to use the bathroom appropriate to their gender identity.
Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed the law in July after several years of disagreement.
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Advocates for the bill hope that trans people can no longer be discriminated against in public places.
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and state Attorney General Maura Healey issued guidance on the law which instructs businesses to presume that a patron is using the appropriate bathroom or locker room unless there is a “compelling reason to seek proof of gender identity.”
Opponents of the bill collected over 30,000 signatures in an attempt to stop the law from passing. They argued it could put women and children at risk by allowing male sexual predators to claim gender identity as a pretence for entering bathrooms or locker rooms.
Massachusetts has become the 18th state to pass a law that protects transgender peoples rights.
Boston has proposed an all-inclusive ID card that would not discriminate on the basis of gender identity, home status, or immigration status.