U.S. & World

25 churches sue over right not to hire LGBT people

AUSTIN, TX (KXAN) - More than two dozen churches in Texas are suing for the right not to hire LGBTQ people for church jobs.

They also want the right to bypass women as clergy.

They are suing the city of Austin over it's anti-discrimination policy, which has been around since 1992.

The Houston-based U.S. Pastor Council says 25 of its member churches in Austin don't want to follow the city ordinance that bans discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

The churches "will not consider practicing homosexuals or transgendered people fo any type of church employment," organization officials said.

Many of their church also believe the Bible prohibits them from hiring women as clergy.

"If the plaintiffs prevail in this suit, it would undermine the ability of Austin or any other similar city to pass an ordinance saying in this city we don't accept sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination," said Holt Lackey, an employment attorney.

Lackey is a labor attorney, who often relies on Austin's ordinance in discrimination cases where federal and state laws have gaps.

He said previous rulings support the right of the groups to choose their own religious leaders.

But for employees who work for a church those are uncharted waters.

He said in the last decade, several Texas cities passed similar rules.

"I anticipate this lawsuit is one of the opening salvos in an attempt to make the rights of transgender Texans a political hot-button in the coming legislative session," Lackey said.

The city of Austin says it's prepared "to vigorously defend" its current policy.


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