The US Supreme Court announced on Tuesday it will take up the case involving a Michigan Christian funeral home's objection to an employee's decision to transition to a different sex.
The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) reports the case could bring a definitive ruling on the future rights of faith-based businesses and ministries.
At issue is whether the 1964 federal Civil Rights law that prohibits employment discrimination based on race and religion also applies to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Some states have laws specifically designed to protect homosexual and transgender workers. In the past, federal courts have split in their decisions on whether those who identify as LGBTQ are also provided protection under existing law.
As CBN News has reported, the funeral home said its priority is for families to focus on their loss and their grief. That's why the business set sex-specific dress code to emphasize professionalism and so employees would blend into the background.
The funeral home fired the employee on the decision to not follow the dress code. It was then that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against the funeral home.
The US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit agreed with the EEOC and ordered the faith-based funeral service, whose mission statement is "to honor God in all that we do," to allow a male employee to dress and present himself as a woman at work.
In their appeal, the Alliance Defending Freedom, whose attorneys are representing the funeral home, asked the Supreme Court to answer the question: Who has the authority to rewrite federal law?
Craig Parshall, general counsel for NRB, said there's an even bigger issue at stake for religious organizations.
"While the issue that the Supreme Court took up is a narrow one, whether civil rights protections against 'sex' discrimination passed in 1964 should include 'gender identity' and transgender rights, it will have vast implications for religious groups," Parshall explained. "There is an increasing movement to force faith-based employers to bend to the newly-minted doctrine that a person's subjective ideas of how they think of their own gender should always prevail, regardless of the religious conscience of employers, businesses, and ministries."