Utah, LDS Church file ‘friend of the court’ papers in transgender bathroom case

Posted at 7:24 PM, Feb 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-17 22:08:35-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has joined with other religious groups opposing a federal decision to allow transgender students to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

The amicus filing by the LDS Church, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and Christian Legal Society was filed last month with the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Despite disagreements on many points of faith, we are united in supporting the vigorous free exercise of religion under the First Amendment. The religious liberty we cherish is threatened by the Fourth Circuit’s decision adopting the Department of Education’s expansion of Title IX beyond any plausible interpretation. We submit this brief to inform the Court about the sharp clashes with religious belief and practice that will arise if the Court interprets the term ‘sex’ in Title IX to include gender identity,” Alexander Dushku and R. Shawn Gunnerson of the Utah law firm Kirton McConkie (which counts the LDS Church among its clients) wrote in the filing.

In a statement to FOX 13, the LDS Church said its participation in the amicus filing “does not represent a change in position, but instead a restatement of our belief -with many other faith traditions-that gender is an eternal characteristic.”

“The brief concludes by arguing that, instead of imposing an outcome Congress did not intend, the Supreme Court should allow Congress and state legislatures to reach compromises where transgendered persons can be appropriately accommodated without infringing on the free exercise of religion, while seeking for fairness for all. Sustainable results will be more likely achieved if citizens and lawmakers are left free to address gender identity in ways that preserve the Nation’s priceless heritage of religious freedom,” the statement reads.

Read the amicus filing here, via SCOTUSblog

The state of Utah filed a separate “friend of the court” brief opposing the U.S. Department of Education’s directive. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and other state attorneys general argued over federal funding issues.

“If the federal government may change States’ obligations decades after they first agree to receive funds, the federal government will have the power to leverage the States’ longstanding reliance on such funds into accepting any number of conditions,” the brief states.

Read the amicus filing by the attorneys general here, via SCOTUSblog

The case centers around Gavin Grimm, a Virginia teen who identifies as a boy and sued to be able to use the restroom that corresponds with his gender identity. The U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled arguments in the case next month.