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SCOTUS provides exemption for religious schools from bias lawsuits
2020-07-08

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On July 8, the U.S. Supreme Court ( SCOTUS ) ruled seven to two in favor of two California religious schools that argued for exemption from employment-discrimination lawsuits that teachers bring.

Only justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.

The cases were Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Agnes Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Darryl Biel, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Kristen Biel.

Francis DeBernardo—executive director of the pro-LGBTQ Catholic group New Ways Ministry—issued a statement saying the decision "leaves many people, especially LGBTQ people, vulnerable to being fired by institutions that should be the model of fairness and equality, not bigotry and exclusion. This decision is a sad and contradictory follow-up to the Court's June 15th Title VII decision which sought to protect LGBTQ people from employment discrimination.

"Although these two recent employment cases did not involve LGBTQ issues or people, the ruling bolsters church officials' broad claim to a religious exemption from federal anti-discrimination law in a variety of situations, including cases involving sexual and gender minorities."

In a separate statement, Marianne Duddy-Burke—the executive director of DignityUSA, a Catholic organization committed to justice, equality and full inclusion of LGBTQI Catholics in the church and society—said, "We are very disappointed that the Supreme Court has denied the people who teach a diverse body of students attending our nation's Catholic and other religious schools the same legal protections as other teachers.

"For decades, we have seen LGBTQI teachers, vocal allies, and others, such as teachers who expand their families through reproductive technologies, fired for following their consciences. Most of these people had stellar employment records, and were beloved by students, families, and colleagues. That they will continue to be subject to arbitrary application of dogma, and have no legal recourse, is profoundly destabilizing for these employees and the communities they serve."


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