The Fort Des Moines Church of Christ is dropping its lawsuit against the Iowa Civil Rights Commission over its advice about transgender bathroom policies after a federal district court judge’s ruling last week sided with the church.
The Iowa Civil Rights Commission published a brochure that said there is no “bona fide religious exemption” that would let churches require transgender guests at public church events to use the restroom of their gender at birth. The Alliance Defending Freedom represented the church, and Christiana Holcomb is one of the organization’s attorneys.
“The district court ruling was a great win for Iowa churches and provided some much needed clarity and reassurance for them on what the contours of the law are, and what the state human rights commission can and can’t do in enforcing the law,” Holcomb says. Holcomb says that ruling made two key points.
“Number one, churches are not and have never been places of public accommodation that would be subject to this type of law,” Holcomb says. “And secondly , she reiterated that all of the activities that the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ wanted to engage in and does engage in are exempt from the law because they are religious and motivated by religious purposes.” Holcomb says it was important to take the issue to court to stop the commission from overstepping its authority.
“This unelected commission had issues a brochure that clearly stated that they intended to apply the law to churches, and felt that they had the right under the law to determine with church activities were religious and which one were not,” Holcomb says. “Churches in Iowa didn’t know what to think and were concerned about being penalized or being subjected to some type of enforcement action by the commission.” She says they are pleased that Iowa churches now have the reassurance and clarity that they need on the law.