Des Moines, Iowa, Oct 17, 2016 / 15:13 pm
A church’s lawsuit may go forward because it reasonably feared that Iowa’s strict anti-discrimination law would create legal penalties for its preaching and for having single-sex bathrooms and showers, an Iowa court has ruled.
“The government acts outside of its authority when it attempts to control churches,” said Steve O’Ban, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom. “Neither the commission nor any state law has the constitutional authority to dictate how any church uses its facility or what public statements a church can make concerning sexuality.”
O’Ban represented Fort Des Moines Church of Christ in U.S. district court. The church is suing based on fears the state’s anti-discrimination policy on gender identity and sexual orientation would make it legally liable for preaching and following its views on homosexuality and transgender issues – including having single-sex bathrooms.
Judge Stephanie Rose of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa rejected state officials’ request to dismiss the church’s lawsuit Oct. 14. She agreed with the church that the law had a chilling effect on its speech.