Lambda Legal Urges Supreme Court to Ensure Public Funds Aren’t Used to Discriminate

Browse By

Blog Search

July 5, 2016

Today, Lambda Legal filed an amicus brief in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court concerning whether Missouri can enforce a provision of its state constitution that excludes churches from receiving government grants.

From Camilla Taylor, Counsel at Lambda Legal:

Religious organizations that receive government funds while providing services to the public must not discriminate against members of the public or use government aid to proselytize. All too often, LGBT people and people living with HIV experience religiously-based refusals of publicly-funded social services, medical care, employment, and educational opportunities.

For example, Lambda Legal has fought to prevent publicly-funded child welfare agencies from refusing to license lesbian and gay foster parents, from discriminating against employees and job applicants on the basis of religion and sexual orientation, and from forcing children in their care to undergo cruel efforts to change their sexual orientation and deny their gender identities.

No matter how the Court resolves the dispute between Missouri and the church in this case, we ask the Court to ensure that government funding not support religious discrimination or advance religious indoctrination and coercion.

In the case, Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri, which operates a school “as a Church ministry,” filed suit against the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) after DNR turned down its application for a cash grant to resurface its playground, relying on Missouri’s constitutional amendment prohibiting aid to churches. Trinity argued that the church’s exclusion from the program discriminated against the church based on religion, and violated the church’s right to free exercise of its religion.

Taylor added:

Our communities know all too well the various ways that some government-funded organizations use religious justifications to deny LGBT people benefits and services they should have access to.

We question whether Trinity’s school would admit a child of same-sex parents. The school omits religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity from its nondiscrimination policy, and its parent denomination holds that being lesbian, bisexual, gay, or transgender is ‘intrinsically sinful’ and condemned as immoral.

Government should not fund a church playground that fences out certain children based on the sect’s [or “the church’s”] religion.

Read the press release.