St. Louis, Mo., Dec 7, 2022 / 12:55 pm
A Catholic parish in central Michigan is suing the state attorney general over the state Supreme Court’s recent redefinition of “sex” discrimination as encompassing sexual orientation and gender identity, arguing that the redefinition, among other things, threatens the parish’s ability to hire people who model the Church’s teachings.
St. Joseph, the only parish in the town of St. Johns, about 30 minutes north of Lansing, also operates an elementary school. In a legal filing dated Dec. 5, lawyers for the parish argued that as a Catholic institution, St. Joseph hires employees and teachers who are expected to “uphold Catholic teachings in word and deed.” Parents and students, too, enter into an agreement with the school “to live their lives in a way that supports, rather than opposes, the mission of our school and our faith beliefs.”
A July ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court redefined “sex” in a 1976 Michigan anti-discrimination law, the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, to include distinctions made based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Attorneys for the nonprofit law firm Becket argue that the redefinition of sex discrimination in Michigan threatens St. Joseph’s ability to advertise for and hire employees who model the teachings of the Catholic Church because the law does not include a religious exemption.
“Michigan’s new understanding of ‘sex’ discrimination deems it unlawful for St. Joseph’s to follow the 2,000-year-old teachings of the Catholic Church, including its teaching that marriage is a lifelong 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,” the legal filing contends.