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US Federal District Court Dismisses Lawsuit against AG Nessel Challenging ELCRA Protections based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

LANSING – Federal Judge Jane Beckering of the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan has dismissed a case against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and others challenging the application of the landmark ruling in Rouch World LLC v Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR).

In July 2022 Nessel argued before the Michigan Supreme Court that the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity and sexual orientation. She prevailed in a 5-2 opinion. Grand Rapids-based Christian Healthcare Centers’ lawsuit challenged the application of Rouch World’s ruling as to its operations.

“I am pleased that Judge Beckering recognized that the ELCRA and the Equal Accommodations Act already provide for the consideration of religious freedoms when assessing discrimination claims,” Nessel said. “This ruling also recognizes that a plaintiff cannot bring speculative claims unsupported by any facts.”

Christian Healthcare Centers alleged in its suit that the new interpretation of ELCRA violated the Christian Healthcare Centers’ First and 14th Amendment rights and infringed upon its religious mission. They claimed that protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity impact their ability to refuse to provide gender transitioning treatments, to use pronouns not consistent with its patients’ gender at birth, and to only hire staff who have the same Christian beliefs.

On March 29, 2023, U.S. federal court Judge Jane Beckering issued an opinion and order dismissing the plaintiff’s lawsuit because it lacks standing and concluding that “neither the ELCRA nor the Equal Accommodations Act facially fails to recognize religious freedoms.”


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