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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 16, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 51
Anti-LGBT group drops First Amendment lawsuit
Section One
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Anti-LGBT group drops First Amendment lawsuit

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an anti-LGBT legal group, dropped its lawsuit against a Massachusetts anti-discrimination law.

Acting on behalf of four Massachusetts churches, ADF had charged that the law violates their First Amendment rights by treating them as public accommodations when they engage in secular commercial activities.

Churches should have absolute control over the use of their facilities in every context, ADF argued.

Although it challenged the entire state public accommodations law, the lawsuit seemed to be motivated by the recent addition of gender identity as a protected class in Massachusetts law.

That addition would have required churches to allow Trans people to enter their premises and to use gender-appropriate restroom facilities, at least when the churches were open for activities other than religious services.

GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), which intervened in the case to uphold the anti-discrimination law, said they were 'glad' to see ADF drop its suit.

'The claim made by the plaintiffs was from the outset breathtaking in its audacity,' GLAD Legal Director Gary Buseck said in a statement.

'Their assertion that churches are completely excused from complying with nondiscrimination statutes has no foundation in the law. To the contrary, Massachusetts courts have struck an important balance between principles of nondiscrimination and religious liberty - applying the public accommodations law to entities, including religious ones, when engaged in secular activities and not applying the law to entities when engaged in any religious activities.

'We are glad to see ADF withdraw its baseless claim but stand prepared to ensure that when churches engage in nonreligious activities, they are bound by the law just like everyone else.'

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