Starting October 1st, Massachusetts’ new anti-discrimination law will focus on transgender people’s right in public places which may force, among other places, churches to allow transgender people to use bathrooms according to their gender identity.
The “Gender identity guidance”, published by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, states that:
“All persons, regardless of gender identity, shall have the right to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation.”
It also notes that:
“any place of public accommodation that lawfully separates access to a place or portion … based on a person’s sex, shall grant admission to that place, … consistent with the person’s gender identity.”
This law means that changing rooms in public swimming pools, restrooms in movie theaters and locker rooms in gyms will be used according to people’s gender identity regardless “[their] physiology or assigned sex at birth.” It also would not matter whether people have undergone gender affirming surgery or not.
Public accommodations are defined by Massachusetts law as:
“any place, whether licensed or unlicensed, which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public.”
But according to the “Gender identity guidance”, a church, which is not usually considered a public place,
“could be seen as places of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public,”
But it does not provide more information of which church events would be considered secular so subjected to this new law.
Because this new law overlaps with religion, it is not surprising that this new law has some opponents. Some believe that it is a violation of the First Amendment.
An attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious liberty firm, Matt Sharp thinks that:
The commission is wrong to claim that churches could become “public accommodations” simply by holding a “spaghetti supper.”
However, the commission guarantees that the new law does not threaten religious rights. In fact, it says that:
“All charges, including those involving religious institutions or religious exemptions, are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”
Do you think this new law will be a problem for churches?
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