ACLU to Defend South Euclid Fight over LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Ordinance


SOUTH EUCLID — The ACLU of Ohio announced that it will represent the City of South Euclid as it faces a legal challenge from The Lyceum, a Catholic school asserting that the city’s non-discrimination ordinance infringes on its religious liberty. The Lyceum is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

The Lyceum filed its complaint on April 3, 2019 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. On May 7, it filed a preliminary injunction asking the court to stop the city from enforcing its non-discrimination law during the litigation.

“We are defending South Euclid to send a clear message: religious freedom is not license to discriminate. Of course religious schools like the Lyceum should be able to operate according to their religious beliefs, but the freedom of religion is a peoples' protection against state censorship, not a weapon to discriminate against one another,” noted Elizabeth Bonham, staff attorney for the ACLU of Ohio.

More than 20 Ohio jurisdictions like South Euclid have enacted local non-discrimination ordinances specifically to support their LGBTQ residents because the state of Ohio’s nondiscrimination laws don’t cover LGBTQ people.

“Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental values and something the ACLU has protected for 100 years. But religious freedom does not and never has conferred a right to harm others in the name of faith,” concluded Bonham.

“As an ordained minister myself, I know that religious freedom is not a license to discriminate. This nation reached that hard-fought consensus more 50 years ago when people were making the same personal religious claims in support of then-segregated lunch counters. If any court would allow a business operating in the public sphere to selectively deny services to LGBTQ people in the name of religion, it would undermine the very essence of non-discrimination protections for everyone,” noted J. Bennett Guess, executive director for the ACLU of Ohio.

The ACLU of Ohio will be defending this lawsuit and will oppose the preliminary injunction by May 21, 2019.

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