Massachusetts Attorney General, Churches Compromise on Transgender Guidelines

Churches can now govern based on beliefs

Pastors from different churches in Massachusetts announced on Wednesday that they have decided to drop a federal lawsuit regarding gender identity guidelines.

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office initially acknowledged churches as a public place that would have to abide by the law. The law protects transgendered individuals from discrimination when using a public restroom that reflects the gender they identify with.

"When I first heard about this law, I confess I was burdened,” said George Small, a pastor at Horizon Christian Fellowship. “I was burdened because I teach a certain message in church based on the Bible."

In the lawsuit against the Commonwealth, churches argued the law violates freedom of religion.

"We accomplished what we set out to do. To ensure that pastors and churches are free to teach and operate consistently with their faith,” said Andrew Beckwith, the president of Massachusetts Family Institute.

Christiana Holcomb an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom who represents the churches, could have faced fines for governing under their beliefs that contradict the law.

“The Attorney General should never have listed houses of worship on her website as unqualified public accommodations," said Holcomb.

After review of the lawsuit Attorney General Maura Healey’s office willingly exempted churches.

Churches can now govern based on beliefs.

“People who believe in the scriptures are divinely inspired,” said Pastor Roberto Miranda. “We believe that they dictate what we must teach, preach and live."

The gender identity law was enforced in October.

Attorneys for the churches said they'll continue to monitor the law to make sure churches are safe to practice what they preach.

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