The Diocese of Fargo has requested that a discrimination lawsuit, filed by a former employee, be dismissed on the basis that it has the right to preach the Gospel.

Melissa Enebo said the diocese violated North Dakota's human rights laws by firing her in June 1999 for continuing to live with her boyfriend after the couple had a child.

The diocese’s lawyer, Benjamin Thomas, said diocesan officials had told Enebo that her lifestyle was violating church policy. He argued that state law does not apply in this case because of the constitutional separation of church and state. The court must respect the Church's fundamental right to preach the Gospel, he added.

According to AP, Enebo's attorney, Robert Schultz, said the diocese is not above the law when dealing with lay employees.