According to advocates, religious freedom may be under attack in Hutchinson, Kansas. There's a controversial ordinance being considered in the local community that would force churches to host gay weddings and parties.
According to Fox News' Todd Starnes, the Hutchinson City Council is going to consider whether sexual orientation and gender identity should be added to the city's human relations code. If this action is approved during next month's expected vote, churches may find themselves in a tough position.
Hutchinson Human Relations Commission has explained that, under the new regulations, churches that make their buildings available for the general public would not be able to refuse gay couples. This essentially means that churches would be forced to, via rental agreements, support gay nuptials.
"They would not be able to discriminate against gay and lesbian or transgender individuals. That type of protection parallels to what you find in race discrimination," Meryl Dye, a spokesperson for the commission, said in an interview with Fox News. "If a church provides lodging or rents a facility they could not discriminate based on race. It’s along that kind of thinking."
But Matthew Staver, chairman of the conservative Liberty Counsel Action, said that the proposal isn't in line with American values.
"It is a collision course between religious freedom and the LGBT agenda. This proposed legislation will ultimately override the religious freedom that is protected under the First Amendment," he proclaimed. "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."
So, let's say the ordinance passes and a church refuses to comply. Unless there's an exemption for houses of worship when the measures passes, a discrimination complaint can be waged by gay couples or individuals who are refused rental service. If churches are, indeed, found guilty of not complying, fines and other penalties would come into effect.
But, as Starnes notes, it's not just churches that may be impacted by the proposed ordinance:
The Hutchinson measure would also have a major impact on private businesses and landlords. Restaurants, bars and retail shops would be required to provide special bathrooms for individuals who may have male body parts but identify as a female.
According to a FAQ sheet provided by the city, employers would also be forced to allow workers to dress based on their gender identity...
“Dress codes would not be precluded as long as an employer allows an employee to appear, groom and dress consistent with the employee’s gender identity and gender expression,” the FAQ stated.
As far as bathrooms, the city FAQ stated, “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 city’s revised ordinance would also require transgender individuals to use the locker room and shower facilities of their choosing.
The FAQ document that highlights all of the information presented within the provision can be read here. There's no doubt that religious freedom hounds will be monitoring the vote to assess churches' rights and to ensure that the government doesn't overstep First Amendments bounds. On the flip side, supporters of the ordinance will surely fight on for what she see as equal rights in its passage.
(H/T: Fox News)