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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 24, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 34
Roy Moore puppet group files SCOTUS brief against Trans rights
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Roy Moore puppet group files SCOTUS brief against Trans rights

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Foundation for Moral Law - a group founded by former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore and now run by his wife - has filed an amicus brief in the US Supreme Court urging it to protect religious liberty from Transgender activism.

The August 23 brief was filed in the case R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC.

The case revolves around Aimee Stephens, who worked for seven years at Michigan's R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes before getting sacked when she came out as Trans.

Stephens complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with enforcing civil rights laws in the workplace, but her former employer refused arbitration, setting off a court battle.

At issue is the meaning of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1967. The EEOC says the law's ban on discrimination on account of sex protects gender identity.

Stephens's employer, Thomas Rost, says it does not. Rost, who is represented by the right-wing Alliance Defending Freedom, also alleges that his First Amendment religious rights are compromised by employing Stephens, who he persists in describing as a 'cross-dresser' instead of a Transgender woman.

Although the trial court found for the employer, the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit held that Title VII's prohibition of sex discrimination does, indeed, apply to Transgender individuals and that the funeral home owners' religious objections did not protect them from liability.

On behalf of the court, Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote that 'discrimination against employees, either because of their failure to conform to sex stereotypes or their transgender and transitioning status, is illegal under Title VII.

'The unrefuted facts show that the Funeral Home fired Stephens because she refused to abide by her employer's stereotypical conception of her sex, and therefore the EEOC is entitled to summary judgment as to its unlawful-termination claim.'

On Rost's 'religious freedom' claims, the court ruled that 'Rost proclaims 'that God has called him to serve grieving people' and 'that his purpose in life is to minister to the grieving.'

'[However] the Funeral Home is not affiliated with a church; it does not claim to have a religious purpose in its articles of incorporation; it is open every day, including Christian holidays; and it serves clients of all faiths.'

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act - a federal law cited by Rost - 'provides the Funeral Home with no relief because continuing to employ Stephens would not, as a matter of law, substantially burden Rost's religious exercise, and even if it did, the EEOC has shown that enforcing Title VII here is the least restrictive means of furthering its compelling interest in combating and eradicating sex discrimination.'

The brief filed by Moore's group revisits the 'religious freedom' claim rejected by the 6th Circuit.

'Religious liberty is an unalienable right given by God. The courts cannot force the funeral home owners in this case to surrender that right,' Foundation President Kayla Moore said in a statement.

Foundation Senior Counsel John Eidsmoe added, 'By allowing a funeral director to cross-dress, the 6th Circuit forgot about the rights of the deceased's family members, who often want a funeral to be conducted in accordance with their religious beliefs or the religious beliefs of the deceased. When saying goodbye to a loved one, family members should not have to face an additional issue that could cause tension.'

In October 2016, the US Supreme Court had granted certiorari to consider whether Title IX - another federal civil rights law covering schools - required public schools to allow Trans students to use gender-appropriate restrooms.

When the Trump administration came to power in 2017, it reversed the Obama administration guidelines, and told schools that they may segregate students based on the sex they were assigned at birth rather than their gender identities.

At that time, the Supreme Court declined to hear cases on bathroom laws. Now, however, the Supreme Court, with a potentially enlarged right-wing majority, is being asked to consider the rights of Transgender Americans in the workplace instead of in schools.

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