A federal district court in North Dakota hit the brakes on a Biden administration rule that religious employers — for-profit and non-profit — must pay for and/or perform “gender transition services,” even if such care violates the employer’s or provider’s religious beliefs.
The U.S. District Court for North Dakota said the Christian Employers Alliance was “likely” to prevail in its suit against the Department of Health and Human Services and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Judge Daniel M. Traynor, an appointee of former President Trump, issued the preliminary injunction two weeks after hearing arguments in the case.
Judge Traynor wrote that the latest rules from HHS would encourage “a parent to file a complaint if a medical provider refuses to gender transition their child, of any age, including an infant. The thought that a newborn child could be surgically altered to change gender is the result of the Biden HHS Notification and HHS Guidance that brands a medical professional’s refusal to do so as discrimination.”
Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel Jacob Reed, who argued the case, said in a statement that “all employers and healthcare providers, including those in the Christian Employers Alliance, have the constitutional right to conduct their business and render treatment in a manner consistent with their deeply held religious beliefs.”
Judge Traynor also said that the edict was dubious on the merits, attempting to brand doubts about certain treatments as phobias.
“Beyond the religious implications, the Biden HHS Notification and resulting HHS Guidance frustrate the proper care of gender dysphoria, where even among adults who experience the condition, a diagnosis occurs following the considered involvement of medical professionals,” he said.
“By branding the consideration as ‘discrimination,’ the HHS [Guidance] prohibits the medical profession from evaluating what is best for the patient in what is certainly a complex mental health question,” Judge Traynor said.
Mr. Reed said the mandate violates the plaintiffs’ religion because they “believe that God purposefully created humans as either male or female.”
Therefore, the ADF lawyer said, they cannot under the First Amendment’s free exercise of religion guarantees be forced “to pay for or perform life-altering medical procedures or surgeries that seek to change one’s biological sex.”
The Christian Employers Alliance lawsuit accused the EEOC of “misinterpreting and improperly enforcing” anti-discrimination rules in Title VII.
The group also said HHS was wrong in its “reinterpretation of ‘sex’ in federal law to include gender identity,” a move that would require religious healthcare providers who receive federal funds to either “physically perform or facilitate surgeries and procedures that conflict with their deeply held beliefs,” according to a statement.
In an 18-page order, Judge Traynor wrote, “the current interpretation by the EEOC and HHS will cause harm to health care providers, and the Alliance’s members who provide insurance across the county.”
An HHS spokeswoman said via email Tuesday morning that “as a matter of policy,” the agency “does not comment on pending litigation.” An EEOC spokeswoman referred The Washington Times to the Justice Department for comment.