LGBTQ ordinance challenged by churches in Wisconsin

GREEN BAY — Five churches and a Christian radio station are suing De Pere, Wisc., saying a recently LGBTQ rights ordinance should not apply to them.

From Courthouse News Service:

The Green Bay suburb was sued Thursday in Brown County Circuit Court by Hope Lutheran Church, Crosspoint Church, Destiny Church, St. Mark Lutheran Church, Christ the Rock Church and Christian broadcaster Lakeshore Communications Inc. aka Q90fm.

Represented by Wisconsin attorney Heidi Miller and Matthew McReynolds of the California-based Pacific Justice Institute, the churches and radio station argue the ordinance violates their constitutional right to run faith-based ministries and businesses because allowing people who contradict their beliefs to use their facilities goes against the reason the facilities exist.

“Unlike many of its counterparts in other state, local and federal law, the De Pere ordinance does not clearly exempt religious organizations. Nor has the city been willing to assure religious institutions that they will not be subjected to the ordinance when it takes effect March 1, 2018,” the 24-page lawsuit states. “As a result, the ordinance is likely to be imposed on churches and other religious organizations in a manner that would mandate government orthodoxy in core religious functions, communication and conduct.”

The ordinance was passed to ensure that transgender people would not be discriminated against for housing, public accommodation and employment. People can file complaints with the city if they do think they’ve been discriminated against.

The plaintiffs want a religious exception included in the ordinance. The De Pere City Council did not immediately respond to requests from Courthouse News Sevice for comment.

De Pere passed the transgender nondiscrimination ordinance in November 2017 by a 5-4 vote, the news service reported. It is the seventh city in Wisconsin to pledge all-inclusive protections for LGBT residents.