St. Johns, Mich. (WLNS) – A mid-Michigan catholic church is suing the state.
According to a recent lawsuit, Saint Joseph in St. John’s claims their constitutional rights could be violated.
The lawsuit comes after church officials say the new sex and gender protections under the state’s amended civil rights law could prevent its school from teaching according to their faith.
“We’re just asking for clarity on the law. We want to make sure that the school can continue to operate just as it has for nearly a century now,” said Lori Windham, vice president of Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
The suit comes after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in July that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected in the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.
“This can create problems for religious communities who are asking that their teachers and their staff agree with their faith and agree to teach and model that. It can also cause problems for schools who have different rules for girls and boys, and who follow religious teachings about gender, sex, and sexuality,” said Windham.
The recent lawsuit is addressed to Attorney General Dana Nessel, the Department of Civil Rights and the Civil Rights Commission.
Officials in Nessel’s department say they haven’t received a copy of the lawsuit and have no comment at this time.
Back in March, Nessel stated the term sex goes beyond just male or female and that people in Michigan who identify as LGBT should be protected.
“When ELCRA was passed and it was to protect people who were either women or people who were in the minority,” said Nessel.
According to church officials, teachings at St. Joseph include “that marriage is a life-long commitment between one man and one woman, that sexual relations are limited to marriage, and that human beings are created as either male or female.”
“Michigan’s law, now, is really unusual. It doesn’t have any kind of religious exemption for churches and schools that are trying to live out their faith. Most other states do, and federal law does,” said Windham.
When it comes to the next steps, officials at Becket Fund for Religious Liberty say they are waiting to hear what the attorney general and the civil rights commission have to say about the lawsuit.
According to their lawyer, once they provide their response to the court the case will go forward.