Federal judge in Texas rules in favor of religious businesses over LGBTQ discrimination claims

A federal judge ruled Sunday that for-profit businesses that have sincerely held religious beliefs do not have to abide by LGBTQ discrimination claims, a blow to the previous ruling in the Supreme Court that protected sexual orientation and gender identity from discrimination, according to The Dallas Morning News

This ruling from U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush nominee, paved the way for Braidwood Management Inc., a Christian health care company in Texas, to not have to adhere to LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections with the rationale falling in accord with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment, the Morning News reported. 

The protections had come from Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, according to the Morning News. 

This new provision by O'Connor's ruling also allows other religious groups, such as nonprofits, to refuse to hire LGBTQ people and fire them for their LGBTQ identities, the paper reports. 

The new Title VII allows an employer to claim religious exemption so long as it can show a “religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society," according to the Morning News. 

Braidwood and Bear Creek had sued the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that Title VII applied to employees who identify as gay or transgender.

Braidwood does not recognize same-sex marriages or give benefits to those in same-sex relationships, as the company's head believes that it would make him and his company, “complicit in sin, violating his sincerely held religious beliefs," according to the Morning News.

In July, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case over a Washington state florist's refusal to service a wedding for a same-sex couple, which allowed a state court's ruling to stand as it stated that the florist was being discriminatory. 

The Department of Justice also had stated to federal agencies in April that gay students were protected by their civil rights from discriminations, which reversed a Trump administration guidance which subdued the impact of a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2020 that extended protection of civil rights for LGBTQ workers. 

The 2020 landmark case granted Title VII protection for the LGBTQ community. Justice Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchRoe redux: Is 'viability' still viable as a constitutional doctrine? How religious liberty was distorted in the age of COVID-19 Federal judge in Texas rules in favor of religious businesses over LGBTQ discrimination claims MORE, who is considered part of the Supreme Court's conservative wing, surprised observers with the decision to side with the 6-3 majority ruling.