Why Religious Employers Can Fire Trans People, According to a Michigan Court

Aug 19, 2016

By Emma Green

It is perfectly legal for a conservative Christian business owner to fire a transgender employee simply because the person wants to “dress as a woman.”

That’s what a Michigan district court said in a summary judgment against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued Thursday, ruling that a Baptist, family-owned funeral home had the right to dismiss a former funeral director, Aimee Stephens, who was starting to transition from male to female.

This decision is the latest in a confusing body of rulings about what constitutes sex discrimination in workplaces, which is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It’s also a powerful reminder of how tenuous transgender rights currently are in the United States. But above all, the reasoning in the decision suggests that the powerful effects of the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby are starting to emerge. While the court’s logic wouldn’t apply to other kinds of discrimination outlawed by Title VII—on the basis of race or national origin, for example—it could apply to future cases of alleged discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.


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2 comments on “Why Religious Employers Can Fire Trans People, According to a Michigan Court

  • @OP – That’s what a Michigan district court said in a summary judgment against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued Thursday, ruling that a Baptist, family-owned funeral home had the right to dismiss a former funeral director, Aimee Stephens, who was starting to transition from male to female.

    It seems a Kenyan MP is showing backward Michigan the way!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-37256913

    A Kenyan MP has asked the country’s parliament to pass a law to recognise a third gender to end discrimination against those who identify as intersex.
    Isaac Mwaura is also asking for funding for gender alignment surgery and a public awareness campaign to end stigma against intersex people.

    “They see me as a curse,” one person born female who later developed male physical characteristics told the BBC.

    Intersex are people whose sex is neither completely male nor female.

    Kenya is a largely conservative country where issues of gender identity and sexual orientation are usually dismissed using cultural and religious beliefs.

    However, in 2014, a court in the country broke with tradition by ruling in favour of a transsexual woman who had sued the education authorities for refusing to amend her certificates to reflect her new gender and name.



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  • It seems another African country is not prepared to accept US religious bigotry and hatred!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-37349683

    South Africa has barred controversial US pastor Steven Anderson from visiting the county because of his critical remarks about homosexuality.

    The home affairs minister said he was refused a visa as the constitution prohibits hate speech.

    Mr Anderson runs the Faithful Word Baptist Church, which says that homosexuality is an abomination punishable by the death penalty.

    He said that religious freedom no longer existed in South Africa.

    “I feel sorry for people who live in South Africa, but thank God we still have a wide open door in Botswana,” Mr Anderson posted on his Facebook page after the decision to refuse him a visa.

    South Africa has one of the most liberal constitutions in the world which protects gay rights.

    The BBC’s Milton Nkosi in Johannesburg says Mr Anderson was invited by a local church to visit this month.

    Two petitions with more than 60,000 signatures, organised by gay and human rights activists in South Africa, had called for the trip to be stopped.

    “I have identified Steven Anderson as an undesirable person to travel to South Africa,” Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said.

    Mr Anderson’s church is based in the US state of Arizona and describes itself as an “old-fashioned, independent, fundamental, King James Bible only, soul-winning Baptist church”.



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