Friday, March 03, 2017

Religious Coalitions Take Contrasting Positions As Amici In Transgender Bathroom Case

Broad coalitions of religious groups have, through amicus briefs, now weighed in on opposite sides of the battle over transgender rights and Title IX that will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on March 28 in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.(SCOTUSblog case page).  A brief (full text) filed in January by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations;  National Association of Evangelicals; Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod; and Christian Legal Society argues in part:
Major religious traditions—including those represented by amici—share the belief that a person’s identity as male or female is created by God and immutable. That belief is contradicted by the U.S. Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a)....
Interpreting Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination as an implicit ban on gender identity discrimination would undermine the ability of religious organizations to govern their own institutions consistent with their tenets. Maintaining religious schools, colleges, and universities that reflect the faith of their sponsoring religious organizations would be in jeopardy. But also, because federal civil rights laws for employment and housing contain the same prohibition on sex discrimination as Title IX, a misstep in this case could threaten religious liberty across a broad range of circumstances, including employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Meanwhile, a brief (full text) filed yesterday on behalf of 15 religious organizations (Protestant, Jewish and Muslim) and more than 1800 faith leaders took a different position, arguing in part:
The arguments of religious amici supporting Petitioner are ultimately not about religious freedom at all. A high school boy simply wanting to use the same restroom as his classmates at a public school poses no threat to anyone’s religious exercise or expression. Rather, these religious actors seek to enforce a kind of religious orthodoxy that rejects the fundamental existence and dignity of transgender persons. Permitting such religious views to inform the scope of civil rights law enforcement would violate the Establishment Clause both by enshrining religion in secular law and by favoring particular religious views and the views of particular institutions over those espoused by the undersigned Amici.
Huffington Post has more on this brief.