Transgender restroom bill applied to Mass. churches

By David Roach - Posted at Baptist Press:

BOSTON (BP) -- A Massachusetts government commission's claim that churches may be subject to the state's transgender restroom bill has drawn expressions of concern from local evangelicals.

"The United States Constitution has been understood since the founding of our nation as specifically protecting the rights of churches to function in keeping with their deeply held religious beliefs," Terry Dorsett, executive director of the Baptist Convention of New England, told Baptist Press in written comments. "Any attempt by a small vocal activist group to strip churches of that right should be vehemently opposed by all people. If they can take a church's right to practice their faith away, imagine what else they can do."

At issue is a document released by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) Sept. 1 explaining how a ban on gender identity discrimination in public accommodations adopted in July will be enforced when it takes effect Oct. 1.

The document warns, "Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public. All persons, regardless of gender identity, shall have the right to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation."