Religious Refusals

Religious Refusals

Gender Justice counters all efforts to legalize discrimination and we reject false choices between religious freedom and civil rights. We strive for a world where the practice of religion and the expression of every gender identity and sexual orientation are compatible components of thriving communities.

Working to build this world often means fighting back against attempts by individuals, groups, and organizations to deny basic human rights based on gender or sexuality. Religious beliefs are not a license to target, harass, or discriminate against or deny services to someone because of who they love or how they identify.

Read about our case against thrifty white and cvs pharmacies on behalf of client andrea anderson


Conversion Therapy

We believe in building a Minnesota where LGBTQ people are people, not problems to be solved or secrets to be kept. We know gender equity can’t exist when we allow people to be bullied and manipulated because of who they love or how they identify. 

Conversion therapy causes immeasurable harm and has been denounced by every mainstream medical and mental health association, including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Treating someone’s queerness as something that needs to be fixed tells LGBQ people that they do not have a place in this world, and it stops people from being able to truly thrive. 

Minneapolis and Duluth both banned the practice within their cities near the end of last year, and Gender Justice is advocating for a statewide ban at the state legislature. This bill prohibits licensed medical professionals from practicing conversion therapy on minors or vulnerable adults.

Telescope Media

In a filing with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, videographers with Telescope Media sued the state of Minnesota to argue that the Minnesota Human Rights Act – which bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – violates their right to freedom of religion by forcing them to make videos of gay marriages. They are represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal advocacy and training group nationally recognized for promoting anti-LGBTQ law and policy. ADF also works to develop ‘religious liberty’ legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBTQ people on the basis of religion. 

To be clear, Telescope Media does not yet make marriage videos – they just want to, and chose to sue the state for an imagined infringement on freedom of religion. What this case is really about is a desire to manipulate anti-discrimination laws to paint discriminatory vendors as victims when they have to provide services to LGBTQ folks. It’s using the law to legitimize exactly what the law was written to prevent.

These anti-gay-marriage videographers recently won an exemption from the Minnesota Human Rights Act in a decision by the 8th Circuit Court of appeals. Because of this ruling, the business can refuse to serve same-sex couples, a decision that opens the door to businesses refusing to serve gay customers. There is nothing about this decision that is limited to anti-LGBTQ discrimination. A business can use the same argument to refuse to serve clients based on race, sex, national origin, and other protected categories. The attorney general will likely ask for a rehearing, and the case might be heard by the full appeals court.

As an organization that engages regularly in the debate around religious refusals and LGBTQ rights, our legal team has monitored this case from the start. As ADF continues its attempts to dominate the public narrative by pushing messages of hate and exclusion, Gender Justice is prepared to educate the public about the facts of this case and their rights under the Minnesota Human Rights Act as we work to build a more inclusive society for everyone. 


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