Anti-LGBT Group Drops Lawsuit Challenging #TransLawMA December 13, 2016

This week, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) withdrew a lawsuit it had filed on behalf of four churches last October, which sought a sweeping exemption from the Commonwealth’s public accommodations non-discrimination law on the grounds that it violated their first amendment religious freedoms.

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ADF is a notorious anti-LGBT advocacy group, working nationwide to undermine the rights of gay and transgender Americans. It’s no coincidence that they filed Massachusetts lawsuit mere weeks after Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation to update the state’s non-discrimination laws to include protections for transgender people in public accommodations.

The lawsuit would have gone further and given the plaintiff churches unprecedented exemptions from the entirety of the state’s non-discrimination law—even when engaging in public, commercial and secular activities.

“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, co-chair of the Freedom Massachusetts Education Fund

“We all value the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom,” said Kasey Suffredini, co-chair of the Freedom Massachusetts Education Fund, “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.

ADF’s lawsuit was ultimately baseless. Massachusetts’ non-discrimination laws are written to balance religious liberties while also ensuring all residents and visitors to the Commonwealth are treated fairly and equally under the law.

By withdrawing the suit, ADF signals that public accommodations protections in no way treads on the religious freedoms of the four plaintiff churches or other religious institutions.

“We are glad to see ADF withdraw its baseless claim but stand prepared to ensure that when churches engage in non-religious activities, they are bound by the law just like everyone else.” -Gary Buseck, Legal Director for GLAD

“Massachusetts courts have struck an important balance between principles of non-discrimination and religious liberty,” said Gary Buseck, Legal Director for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), “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 non-religious activities, they are bound by the law just like everyone else.”

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