GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (LifeSiteNews) – Parents at Sacred Heart of Jesus Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan have appealed a ruling by a Biden-appointed judge who in August tossed out their lawsuit challenging the state Supreme Court’s mandate that “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” be considered protected classes.
We’ve filed our opening brief with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Sacred Heart Academy.
An amendment to the MI Civil Rights Act took away the protection for religious organizations. We’re fighting back for the school’s right to hire employees with the same…
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@ADFLegal) November 16, 2023
“No government official has the right to force a Catholic institution like Sacred Heart to affirm positions contrary to the Church’s teachings on marriage and sexuality,” Kate Anderson, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), has said.
In July 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” fall under the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Dissenting Judges David Viviano and Brian Zahra said that the decision radically re-interpreted the Act’s original language.
In December 2022, Sacred Heart parish and its school, a K-12 classical academy which educates almost 400 students, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, where it was assigned to Jane Beckering. Three sets of parents added their name to the case. Bickering ruled in August of this year to dismiss the suit because “no case or controversy exists for federal jurisdiction.”
“Michigan is forcing Sacred Heart to make an unconstitutional and unconscionable choice between teaching and practicing the Catholic faith or closing their doors forever, while denying parents of the right to direct the upbringing and education of their children,” John Bursch, ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy said in a press release.
Pro-abortion Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer has aggressively promoted the LGBT agenda since first assuming office in 2019, prompting outcry from religious Michiganians, who have argued that Democrat-passed legislation has not sufficiently protected them from coercion.
Whitmer’s lesbian Attorney General, Dana Nessel, previously attempted but failed thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s intervention to force Christian adoption agencies to violate their consciences and place children into the homes of same-sex couples. In 2019, she unilaterally directed the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to push LGBT ideology.
Since the 79-page appeal (which can be read here) was filed in the Sixth Circuit Court on November 15, many non-Catholic groups have come to Sacred Heart Academy’s defense. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritan’s Purse, Concerned Women for America, the Family Foundation, Illinois Family Institute, International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers, Pacific Justice Institute, and the National Legal Foundation filed an amicus brief in support of the school. The Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty and the Religious Freedom Institute’s Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team also filed a brief in favor of Sacred Heart Academy. They can be read here and here.