WASHINGTON — Christians are raising concern after Attorney General Eric Holder issued an internal memo last week within the United States Department of Justice announcing that it is to now interpret federal law as prohibiting discrimination against transgenders for employment opportunities.
The Department announced the development on Thursday, meaning that it is heretofore open to bringing legal claims on behalf of those who state that they have been turned down for employment or let go from their jobs because of their “gender identity.”
“Attorney General Holder announced today that the Department of Justice will take the position in litigation that the protection of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to claims of discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, including transgender status,” it wrote.
The Department had previously come to the conclusion that the law’s prohibition on sex discrimination does not apply to those who seek to identify as the opposite sex. Thursday’s announcement reverses that decision.
“The federal government’s approach to this issue has evolved over time,” the memo written by Holder stated. “In 2006, the Department stated in litigation that Title VII’ s prohibition of discrimination based on sex did not cover discrimination based on transgender status or gender identity per se.”
“In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is discrimination on the
basis of sex,” he continued. “More recently, the president announced that discrimination based on gender identity is prohibited for purposes
of federal employment and government contracting.”
Holder said that in studying case law surrounding the matter and “developing jurisprudence” on the subject he determined that the Civil Rights Act extends to “transgendered” persons “because an employee’s gender identification is as a member of a particular sex, or because the employee is transitioning, or has transitioned, to another sex.”
“This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” he commented in a press release issued by the office of public affairs. “This will help to foster fair and consistent treatment for all claimants. And it reaffirms the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”
But some are concerned over the announcement, stating that it could pose a problem with Christian organizations and others who wish to run their businesses and ministries in accordance with their beliefs.
“The limited exemptions in Title VII mean that applying this theory nationwide would require employers with legitimate concerns—such as religious organizations and child care centers—to hire men who pretend to be women and women who pretend to be men,” stated Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council. “Parents are deeply concerned that giving a special status to transgender persons will lead to troubling situations for their children, and religious leaders are left unsure how this arbitrary new rule will affect hiring within their ministries.”
“The government simply has no business overriding parental concerns and telling religious organizations that they must place transgender individuals in role-model positions,” he continued. “Such threats to parental rights and religious liberty should be immediately repudiated by the next presidential administration.”