HUTCHINSON, KANSAS, April 24, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A proposed ordinance in one of the nation’s most conservative states would force churches to rent their property out for same-sex “weddings” and receptions. It would also force any public venue to allow people to use showers, restrooms, and locker-rooms based on their “gender identity,” rather than their “sex at birth.”
The city council of Hutchinson, Kansas, is considering enacting a new statute adding sexual orientation and sexual identity to the city’s non-discrimination policy in all public accommodations. The measure would specifically include churches that rent their property to the public.
“If a church has a parish hall that they rent out to the general public, they could not discriminate against a gay couple who want to rent the building for a party,” such as a same-sex ceremony or reception, according to a city FAQ about the ordinance. If the church only rents the building to their parishioners, they can continue to do so.”
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Religious facilities, including churches, “would not be able to discriminate against gay and lesbian or transgender individuals,” Meryl Dye, a spokeswoman for the Hutchinson Human Relations Commission, confirmed. “Unless the city council includes an exemption for churches, it would generate a discrimination complaint for the gay couple and it would be investigated” – and possibly lead to a fine.
The ordinance would also force employers to allow transgender people to dress according to their gender identity, rather than “the person’s assigned sex at birth,” in the workplace.
“A transgender person must be allowed to use restrooms appropriate to their gender identity rather than their assigned gender at birth without being harassed or questioned,” the FAQ states. They must also be allowed to use the “gender-segregated locker and shower facilities” of their choice. Asking for identification to verify sex before admitting that person to the the locker room or shower is classified as “discriminatory conduct.”
Landlords who rent three or more units may not refuse to rent their facilities to homosexual or transgender tenants.
Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel called the law “a collision course between religious freedom and the LGBT agenda.”
“What we are ultimately going to see is churches forced to confront this law, forced to do things and allow their facilities to be used by people and for events that diametrically undercut the mission of the church,” he said.
The prospect is more than theoretical. In 2005, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal fined a Knights of Columbus hall for refusing to allow lesbians to use the premises for a “wedding” reception.
Neil Addison, the director of the Thomas More Legal Centre and an expert on religious discrimination law, recently warned that Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposed bill will go one step further in the United Kingdom. “The Government will be obliged to permit same-sex marriage on religious premises on exactly the same basis as it permits heterosexual marriage,” he said.
The Court of Appeal in the UK ruled a Christian marriage registrar, Lillian Ladele, had no right to ask someone else to validate a same-sex “marriage,” because her religious objection “was not a core part of her religion.” This precedent will compel homosexual ceremonies to be performed on church grounds, Addison said.