Chris Lange, FISM News
A federal court sided with religious freedom on Monday, temporarily blocking the Biden administration’s mandate requiring religious employers and healthcare providers to pay for employees’ transgender surgeries and treatments in violation of their religious beliefs.
District Judge Daniel M. Traynor granted a preliminary injunction request filed by the Christian Employers Alliance’s (CEA) that prohibits the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from enforcing the law against the CEA “in a manner that would require its present or future members to provide insurance coverage for gender transition services.”
“No government agency ought to be in the business of evaluating the sincerity of another’s religious beliefs,” Traynor wrote.
The order specifically addressed HHS guidance which Traynor said allows parents to file a complaint against any medical provider who refuses to perform transgender treatment or surgery to their child, regardless of age.
“The thought that a newborn child could be surgically altered to change gender is the result of the Biden HHS Notification and HHS Guidance that brands a medical professional’s refusal to do so as discrimination,” the judge wrote.
“Beyond the religious implications, the Biden HHS Notification and resulting HHS Guidance frustrate the proper care of gender dysphoria,” the order continued, noting that the condition is diagnosed following “the considered involvement of medical professionals.”
“By branding the consideration as ‘discrimination,’ the HHS prohibits the medical profession from evaluating what is best for the patient in what is certainly a complex mental health question,” Traynor wrote.
The order further stated that the CEA and its members “face a very real irreparable harm if they are either forced to comply or if they refuse to comply” with the Biden mandate.
“All employers and healthcare providers, including those in the Christian Employers Alliance, have the constitutional right to conduct their business and render treatment in a manner consistent with their deeply held religious beliefs,” Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Jacob Reed, who is representing the CEA, said in a statement following the ruling.
Reed said that his clients believe that God created humans as male and female and that forcing them to fund or perform treatments or surgeries to alter biological sex is a flagrant violation of their protected religious beliefs.
“The court was on firm ground to halt enforcement of these unlawful mandates that disrespect people of faith,” he said.
ADF’s lawsuit accuses the EEOC of misinterpreting the law in its decision to force religious employers to both provide health insurance coverage and pay for transgender sex change surgeries and procedures, according to the statement.
ADF also disputes a decision by the HHS to redefine the term “sex” in healthcare antidiscrimination laws to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” which ultimately forces any religious providers that receive federal funds to “perform or facilitate surgeries and procedures that conflict with their deeply held beliefs.”
The Biden mandate reversed a Trump-era HHS policy affirming that “sex” is “determined by biology,” and also excluded abortion from being labeled as sex discrimination.
“Beyond the religious implications, the Biden HHS Notification and resulting HHS Guidance frustrate the proper care of gender dysphoria, where even among adults who experience the condition, a diagnosis occurs following the considered involvement of medical professionals,” Traynor wrote. “By branding the consideration as ‘discrimination,’ the HHS prohibits the medical profession from evaluating what is best for the patient in what is certainly a complex mental health question.”
CEA President Shannon Royce said in a statement that the Biden administration’s mandates are “crippling for the countless Christian-owned and operated businesses seeking to care well for their employees without the fear of punishing fines, burdensome litigation costs, the loss of federal funds, and even criminal penalties.”
“As stewards of the health and safety of our valued employees, it is unconscionable and unconstitutional to be mandated to provide, pay for, or promote services and procedures that directly contradict our deeply held religious beliefs,” Royce added. “We are pleased that we can continue to act consistent[ly] with those beliefs while our lawsuit proceeds and look forward to ultimately prevailing with our case.”