Friday, July 8, 2016

Iowa Civil Rights Commission to Churches: Relax! You Can Still Legally Discriminate Against Gay & Trans People!

Earlier this week, Fort Des Moines Church of Christ of Des Moines, IA, filed a federal lawsuit against the Iowa Civil Rights Commission over concerns that they might be forced to allow a trans person to use their restroom someday. This concern comes from a 2008 brochure on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity that read:

This led to concerns that pastors aren't able to preach against gay or trans people anymore. And Fort Des Moines Church of Christ apparently wants to preach against gay and trans people.

In response to the lawsuit and the concerns, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission updated the language to its brochure to clarify the law with regards to churches:

Director Kristin H. Johnson of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission clarified in an article today that they have never been asked to consider any complaints of discrimination against any church during the nine years that Iowa has barred discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity:
"The Iowa Civil Rights Commission has not done anything to suggest it would be enforcing these laws against ministers in the pulpit, and there has been no new publication or statement from the ICRC raising the issue," she said.
Of course, Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian legal defense organization that is representing Fort Des Moines Church of Christ still isn't happy, despite these clarifications:
“Cosmetic changes to the alarming language in one brochure won’t fix the unconstitutionality of the Iowa Civil Rights Act,” read a statement from Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom. 
“The change in the brochure doesn’t fix the inherent problem with the Civil Rights Act that forms the basis of the lawsuit — that the act gives the commission power to determine what parts of a church’s activities do not have a ‘bona fide religious purpose’ and are thereby subject to the act’s prohibitions.”

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