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Christian-Owned Business Can Discriminate Against LGBTQ+ People: Court

Christian-Owned Business Can Discriminate Against LGBTQ+ People: Court

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The ruling came from a federal appeals court based in New Orleans.

A federal appeals court has ruled that a Christian health center is exempt from a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a unanimous decision on Tuesday regarding Braidwood Management, which operates an alternative wellness center in Texas. The three-judge panel stated that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) cannot sue Braidwood over its policy of terminating employees who engage in gay or gender non-conforming conduct.

The three-judge panel consisted of Circuit Judges Edith Clement, Cory Wilson, and Jerry Smith, all of whom were appointed by Republican presidents.

Circuit Judge Jerry Smith wrote that without being exempted, Braidwood would be made to "comply wholeheartedly" with policies it deems as "sinful," Reuters reports. This decision upheld a ruling by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth, Texas.

The court did, however, overturn O'Connor's ruling that would have allowed Braidwood to bring the case as a class action on behalf of other religious businesses. As a result, the exemption now applies exclusively to Braidwood.

Per Reuters, Braidwood sued the EEOC when the agency revised its enforcement guidance in 2021 to align with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which protected gay and transgender workers from unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The company sought a court order protecting it from EEOC enforcement under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law enacted in 1993 that restricts government agencies from burdening a person's religious freedoms.

Braidwood argued that it operated in accordance with Christian beliefs by opposing homosexuality and adhering to gender roles.

The company is also suing the Biden administration over a requirement in the Affordable Care Act that requires employer health insurance plans to cover preventive care services and HIV drugs like PrEP. Braidwood claims that this requirement violates its religious beliefs.

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