JACKSONVILLE, Florida (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic bookstore is suing the City of Jacksonville over a law it believes will force employees to address gender confused customers by their preferred pronouns.
Americans don’t give up their #FirstAmendment rights when they open a private business. We’ve filed suit on behalf of Queen of Angels Catholic bookstore to ensure an unconstitutional law doesn’t force them to forsake their beliefs. https://t.co/5BbiRVP7hG
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@ADFLegal) February 23, 2023
Last week, on Ash Wednesday, the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a 52-page lawsuit on behalf of Queen of Angels Catholic Bookstore, which has been owned by Christie DeTrude since 2017. Approximately seven part-time employees work at the store, all of whom regularly pray together throughout the day.
The lawsuit argues that the city’s Human Rights Ordinance gives wide latitude to local authorities to punish Queen of Angels for making LGBT persons feel “unwelcome, objectionable, or unacceptable.” The ordinance was first approved in 2017 but revised and passed by a 15-4 vote in June of 2020. Lawyers are calling on the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida to strike the law down.
Current Queen of Angels policy is that when employees are asked to use pronouns or titles that do not align with a customer’s biological sex, they “respectfully decline” and instead “use [a] form of address that does not contradict the customer’s gender, such as the customer’s first or last name.”
While the ADF lawsuit acknowledges that the store has never had a complaint from a gender-confused person, or refused service to them, it does note that if employees are forced by the city to refer to biological males or females with a title contradicting their God-given gender, employees would be “violat[ing] the divine command to not bear false witness.”
Queen of Angels is located in the Diocese of St Augustine, which is led by Bishop Erik T. Pohlmeier. Pohlmeier was appointed by Pope Francis in May 2022 following the resignation of Bishop Felipe J. Estévez. LifeSite reached out Kathleen Bagg, Director of Diocesan Communications, on Friday, February 24 via email. As this story goes to publication, LifeSite has not received a response.
The ADF’s lawsuit is being filed, it seems, as a proactive measure meant to neutralize potential legal blowback that may come the store’s way. The lawsuit emphasizes that there is a “growing need to formalize the bookstore policies” on LGBT issues.
Queen of Angels sells a variety of religious items, including crucifixes, rosaries, books, calendars, and an assortment of other goods. Customers who visit their Jacksonville location are invited to submit prayers requests for staff to pray for. A link to Queen of Angels’ Facebook page, YouTube channel, and the location of nearby Latin Masses is also included on its website.