Catholics File Suit Against St. Louis Ordinance
The Catholic schools of the St. Louis Archdiocese have
suit in federal court against the City of St. Louis over a recent
ordinance that threatens the freedom of religious institutions.
litigation was filed in U.S. District Court for Eastern Missouri by
Archdiocesan elementary schools, a maternity home known as Our Lady's
Inn, and a private Catholic businessman named Frank O'Brien.
focus of the lawsuit is an ordinance approved by the St. Louis Board of
Aldermen that prohibits discrimination based on so-called "reproductive
health decisions." Pro-life leaders have contended the ordinance would
make the City of St. Louis an abortion "sanctuary city."
maintain that religious organizations could face legal action for
failing to include abortion coverage in their health insurance plans,
and property owners could be charged with discrimination for failing to
rent tenant space to abortion clinics or abortion doctors.
activists also claim that the new law could results in fines being
imposed against religious schools, religious charities, and crisis
pregnancy centers for not employing individuals who publicly advocate
for legalized abortion.
"We know that all life is a gift from
God, and must be protected at any cost," said St. Louis Archbishop
Robert Carlson at a press conference outside the federal courthouse in
downtown St. Louis.
"Sadly, legal protection for those members of
the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed by the
Supreme Court in 1973. Now, some of our St. Louis
politicians have made a protected 'class' out of 'reproductive health,'
which is merely a politically correct euphemism for abortion," Carlson
"The passage of this bill is not a milestone of our
city's success," Carlson added. "It is rather a marker of our
city's embrace of the culture of death."
Peggy Forrest, President
of Our Lady's Inn, says that the ordinance will damage the maternity
home's mission to provide services to homeless pregnant women and their
"The ordinance prevents me from hiring only individuals
who support our alternatives to abortion mission. It also
requires Our Lady's Inn to house women who intend to have an abortion,
which forces us to be complicit in that decision."
lawsuit asks the federal court to issue an injunction banning
enforcement of the ordinance until the case can go to trial. The
plaintiffs claim violation of their First Amendment right to free speech
and the free exercise of religion, and the protections afforded by
Missouri's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
was defiant in declaring that the Archdiocese would adopt a role as
conscientious objectors to the ordinance. "Let me be clear:
The Archdiocese of St. Louis will not comply with this ordinance."
Thomas More Society is representing the plaintiffs in the
lawsuit. Thomas More Attorney Sarah Pitlyk says the ordinance must
include exemptions for individuals with sincere religious, moral, or
ethical objections to be
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KY Court Affirms
Free Speech Rights
of Christian Printer
Kentucky appeals court has vindicated the free speech rights of a
Lexington print shop owner in a much-watched case that has major
national religious liberty implications. The court ruled that the
Christian business owner could not be compelled to communicate messages that violated his religious beliefs.
case involves a company called Hands On Originals, which advertises
itself as a "Christian outfitter." The company prints
"high-quality, customized Christian apparel" with Christian-themed
messages for churches, schools, clubs, teams, and fundraising efforts in
the religious community.
In 2012 owner Blaine Adamson was
approached by representatives of the Lexington Gay and Lesbian Services
Organization. He was asked to design and print T-shirts for the
group's annual "gay pride" festival. Adamson declined the
opportunity, saying he could not promote such an event because of his
Despite the fact that Adamson arranged for the shirts to be produced by another printer in town, event
organizers filed a complaint against him with the Lexington Human
Rights Commission. They accused him of violating the city's
"fairness" ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on "sexual
orientation." The Commission subsequently found him guilty of the
In a 2-1 decision, the Kentucky Court of Appeals has now
overturned the Human Rights Commission decision. The Appeals Court
concluded that Adamson had not discriminated against the homosexual
group because of the sexual behavior of its members, but rather because
of the message they were asking him to design and disseminate.
right of free speech does not guarantee to any person the right to use
someone else's property," wrote Chief Judge Joy Kramer. "In other
'service' Hands On Originals offers is the promotion of messages.
The conduct Hands On Originals chose not to promote was pure speech."
appeals court ruled that while the printing company was indeed a public
accommodation, the small business was not a public forum. Thus it
was constitutionally entitled to determine what messages and viewpoints
it chooses to endorse and to publicize.
Adamson says he holds
no hostility to homosexuals, and has employed them in his business for
years. However, he says "we've had to turn down several
jobs...when they present a message that conflicts with my
convictions. I don't leave my faith at the door when I walk into
my business. In my case, fortunately the legal system
Adamson was represented in the case by the Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell
says the Kentucky Appeals Court decision is a major victory for the
First Amendment free speech and free exercise rights of every American.
should always have the freedom to believe what they will, the freedom
to express those beliefs, and the freedom not to express ideas that
would violate their conscience. The government shouldn't be able
to force citizens to create speech that conflicts with their deepest
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research
Council, also welcomed the ruling. "We are pleased to learn that
the freedom of the press also includes T-shirt presses. This
decision affirms our nation's long history of
protecting Americans from being compelled by the government to advocate
a message to which one objects. This ruling is a major triumph
over the notion that surrendering First Amendment rights is just 'the
price of doing business.'"
In recent years, many states and
municipalities have amended their "public accommodations" laws and
ordinances to prohibit discrimination based on "sexual orientation" and
"gender identity." These laws have been used by homosexual rights
advocates to target bakers, florists, photographers, and even churches
and ministers for refusing to participate in same-sex union ceremonies.
have been repeatedly made in the Missouri Legislature to amend the
state's public accommodations anti-discrimination statutes in the same
way. This session the Missouri Senate voted down an amendment to
the state's Human Rights Statute to make "sexual
orientation" and "gender identity" protected classes. The
Missouri House set aside an amendment that would have done the same
during similar debate on the scope of anti-discrimination provisions in