By Patrick Szabo
On Sept. 28, the Alexandria-based Calvary Road Baptist Church, the Staunton-based Community Fellowship Church, the Charlottesville-based Community Christian Academy and the Lansdowne-based Care Net pregnancy center filed a lawsuit against Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, Senior Assistant Attorney General Thomas Payne and the State Corporation Commission in Loudoun County Circuit Court alleging that the passage of Senate Bill 868, sometimes referred to as the Virginia Values Act, and House Bill 1429 threaten their religious freedoms.
The Senate bill prohibits employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity when hiring or firing employees. The House bill prohibits an employer from denying or limiting healthcare coverage to a transgender employee—meaning it would require an employer’s insurance plan to cover “medically necessary transition-related care” such as mental health services, hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery if an employee opts to undergo those types of procedures.
Both pieces of legislation became law on July 1.
The ministries claim that under the new law established through passage of the Senate bill, they are restricted from enforcing male- and female-specific dress codes and bathroom/locker room arrangements; using masculine pronouns when referring to males and feminine pronouns when referring to females; publishing on their websites information outlining their views on sexual identity and marriage; and firing employees if they publicly support causes contrary to the ministries’ religious missions or beliefs.
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