Opponents of what may be the nation's strictest state anti-discrimination law are submitting more than 50,000 signatures today, hoping to repeal the new Massachusetts statute.
Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, told CBN News that he is "prayerfully optimistic" that the state will certify at least 32,000 of those signatures to put the repeal initiative on the November 2018 state ballot.
The law forbids discrimination on the basis of gender identity in places of public accommodation and provides no religious exemption for churches that hold events open to the public. It goes into effect Oct. 1, two years before the state might have the chance to vote on the issue.
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination issued a "Gender Identity Guidance" Sept. 1 and said that under the new law "even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public."
Beckwith said the law "creates all kinds of uncertainty for churches and a chilling effect."
He said the law means that churches will have to allow men who identity as women, or predators who pretend that they do, complete access to women's bathrooms and locker rooms.
If the repeal effort fails, Beckwith predicts that the courts will ultimately decide the issue. In the meantime, he's advising churches to make sure that their bylaws and statements of faith have clear language on gender identity.