Churches sue over Mass. transgender bathroom law

BOSTON — A conservative Christian organization has filed a federal lawsuit challenging a Massachusetts law that prohibits discrimination against transgender people in public restrooms.

Alliance Defending Freedom sued Tuesday on behalf of four Massachusetts churches to protect their right to operate their facilities "in a manner that doesn't violate their core religious beliefs."

The law allows transgender people to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

“They believe the bible teaches that god created each person as immutably male or female and that promotes human flourishing and that’s good and they want to use their houses of worship to reflect and reinforce what they teach from the pulpit,” Christina Holcomb, legal counsel for the Alliance said.

The lawsuit says because Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey has found that churches are places of public accommodation, it would force them to open shower facilities and restrooms based on perceived gender identity.

The lawsuit asks the court to suspend enforcement of the law against the churches while their lawsuit proceeds.

“Hundreds of faith leaders and communities spoke out in strong support of the transgender protections law this year. This lawsuit is no more than a last-ditch scare tactic to single out transgender people for attack,” a statement from Freedom Massachusetts, an organization that supports the new law, said.

Healey's spokeswoman says the office is reviewing the lawsuit but is proud of the law.

In addition to the lawsuit, a ballot question giving voters an opportunity to repeal the law has been approved and will be decided in November 2018.

“We are pleased that we finally have a law in place that protects transgender people from discrimination in public places. This law is about civil rights and is critical for people who were without full protection and equality under the law for too long,” a statement from the AG’s Office said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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