LGBTQ Legal Issues

Judge cites challengers' religious beliefs in blocking transgender health care requirements

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A federal judge in North Dakota has blocked the federal government from requiring members of the Christian Employers Alliance to provide health coverage for gender transition services.

U.S. District Judge Daniel M. Traynor of the District of North Dakota issued a preliminary injunction Monday, report Law360, Bloomberg Law, Fox News and a press release by Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group.

The ADF represents the group challenging the policies, the Christian Employers Alliance.

Members of the Christian Employers Alliance are Christian employers who think that gender reassignment is contrary to Christian values.

The Christian Employers Alliance had argued that the gender health care requirements violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment’s free speech and free exercise protections. Traynor said the alliance had shown a likelihood of success in the lawsuit.

The suit had contended that, in mandating coverage for transgender care, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had misinterpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services misinterpreted nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Traynor blocked the two federal agencies from requiring transgender transition coverage by members of the Christian Employers Alliance and their insurers.

“No government agency ought to be in the business of evaluating the sincerity of another’s religious beliefs,” Traynor wrote.

Traynor said the alliance faces a real harm if it’s forced to comply with the mandate. He pointed to guidance from the HHS that “encourages a parent to file a complaint if a medical provider refuses to gender transition their child, of any age, including an infant.”

The case, Christian Employers Alliance v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is one of several in which religious groups have persuaded judges to block federal government requirements on transgender health care, according to Law360.

In January 2021, another federal judge in North Dakota blocked the government from requiring Catholic-affiliated organizations from providing transgender transition procedures. The case is pending before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at St. Louis.

Another case is pending before the 5th Circuit at New Orleans, according to Bloomberg Law and a press release by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has intervened in the case.

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