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Public Accommodation Laws

Understand how discrimination laws affect which outside groups can use church facilities.

Public Accommodation Laws

Generally and broadly speaking, a place of public accommodation is a place that offers the public some sort of goods and or service. Most states and many cities have enacted laws prohibiting various forms of discrimination by places of public accommodation. Many of these laws prohibit discrimination by places of public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and these provisions have raised a number of questions for some pastors, including the following:

  • Can churches or clergy be penalized under a state or local public accommodations law for sermons and other teachings that reject, on doctrinal grounds, same-sex marriages or gender identity different from one's gender at birth?
  • Can churches or clergy be penalized under a state or local public accommodations law for refusing to allow same-sex marriages to be performed on church property?
  • Can churches or clergy be penalized under a state or local public accommodations law for denying access to certain programs and activities on the basis of sexual orientation, same-sex marriage, or gender identity?

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Posted:
  • March 3, 2020

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