The Fort Des Moines Church of Christ said the commission is violating the church’s freedom of religion with its interpretation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
The 32-page lawsuit seeks to strike down as unconstitutional a portion of a 2007 Iowa law that could apply transgender bathroom rules to churches.
The Fort Des Moines Church of Christ filed the lawsuit on Monday against the Iowa Civil Rights Commission seeking to keep the state from enforcing rules allowing biological males who identify as women to use women’s bathrooms and showers and the same for females identifying as men.
The commission has said the state law sometimes applies to churches, which the church says would be a violation of its constitutional rights of free speech and freedom of religion.
“The Iowa Civil Rights Commission is essentially marching right into the church and directing how Fort Des Moines must use its own facilities. It is an astonishingly unprecedented government overreach,” said Christiana Holcomb, of the Alliance Defending Freedom for Faith, for Justice.
Tom Conley is an Iowa Civil Rights commissioner. He said the commission was just doing its job and following the law and his personal feeling is this is an issue that can be resolved.
“I think there is room for compromise and I don’t think we’ve really had that. On one hand, we have people who believe their religious rights are being violated. On the other hand, there is a perception people who are transgender, gay, or lesbian are trying if you will — to cram it down the throat of people who aren’t,” said Conley.
Conley suggests a third gender neutral bathroom could be the solution.
Donna Red Wing is the executive director for One Iowa, which advocates for LGBTQ.
She said there is a legal line the church has crossed.
“If they are involved in a bonafide religious activity they are exempt. If they are offering public accommodation that could be a camp open to all kids, could be a food pantry. If they receive funds from local, state, or federal government that takes them out of the bonafide religious activity into public accommodation,” said Red Wing.