Christian medical organization sues Michigan over discrimination law
A faith-based medical nonprofit in Michigan has filed a lawsuit claiming that state civil rights law forces its providers to prescribe hormone drugs for gender transition and use patients’ preferred pronouns.
Christian Healthcare Centers, a network of Christian medical professionals based in Grand Rapids, filed the lawsuit on Monday against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and other state government officials in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
“Christian Healthcare has already been asked to use preferred pronouns and to change patient sex in medical records and refused. And Christian Healthcare currently holds policies that violate Michigan’s law and subject it to immediate investigation and prosecution,” the legal filing states.
“The First and Fourteenth Amendments protect Christian Healthcare’s religious and expressive freedom to do so. Just as the government cannot force a synagogue to hire Hindus or an Islamic cultural center to promote alcohol use, it cannot force Christian Healthcare to compromise its religious character, hire those who do not share its faith, or speak messages that contradict that faith.”
Christian Healthcare Centers is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal nonprofit specializing in religious liberty litigation.
According to the lawsuit, Michigan’s civil rights law has been interpreted by state courts to include sexual orientation and gender identity, which requires the nonprofit to hire people who do not share their faith.
“Christian Healthcare … maintains the integrity of its religious mission by only hiring employees who share its faith,” the lawsuit reads. “This is standard procedure in ministry and is perfectly legal under federal law and the law of nearly every state. But not in Michigan.”
“Under the guise of stopping discrimination, the law discriminates against religious organizations, requiring them to forfeit their religious character and hire people
who do not share their faith,” the complaint adds.
ADF Senior Counsel Hal Frampton said in a statement Monday that he believes “Christian Healthcare Centers should not be forced to check its faith at the clinic door.”
“Christian Healthcare Centers serves everybody with compassionate care and respect, including patients who identify as the opposite of their biological sex, providing them with the same high-quality care it provides to all of its patients,” stated Frampton.
“Yet this lawsuit is necessary to protect Christian Healthcare Centers’ constitutional rights and to ensure other religious organizations can freely operate according to the dictates of their faith.”
The Christian Post contacted the Michigan Department of Attorney General for comment. A spokesperson responded Tuesday morning that the department is “reviewing the lawsuit.”
In July, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in the case of Rouch World LLC et al. v Michigan Department of Civil Rights et al. that the state ban on sex discrimination includes sexual orientation.
Nessel, a Democrat, celebrated the ruling in a statement arguing that it is “critical that those of us elected to public office work to preserve and protect the rights of all residents.”
“Our residents deserve to live in a state that recognizes the value of diversity and rejects the notion that our civil rights law could be used as a tool of discrimination,” she added.
“This ruling is not only a victory for the LGBTQ+ community, but for all Michigan residents, and one that’s long overdue.”