City’s Law Illegally Forces Catholic Bookstore To Violate Religious Beliefs On Marriage And Gender, Lawsuit Alleges

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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A Catholic bookstore filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Jacksonville, Florida, Wednesday for a law that allegedly prevents the business from expressing religious views on traditional marriage and gender, according to a press release.

Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance was passed in 2017 and updated the city’s civil rights law to include sexual orientation and gender identity, which prohibits businesses from discriminating against anyone in the LGBTQ community, according to The Florida Times Union. Queen of Angels Catholic Bookstore filed the lawsuit against the city on Ash Wednesday protesting the law. (RELATED: Pope Francis Criticizes ‘Conservative’ And ‘Progressive’ Wings For Politicizing Church)

The world’s largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom points out that while the bookstore’s owner Christie DeTrude is happy to serve anyone who comes in, neither she nor her staff can “speak messages that violate their faith,” according to a press release from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing the bookstore.

“Thus, they affirm that men and women are different and cannot use pronouns or titles that don’t align with a customer’s sex,” the press release read. “DeTrude also wants to explain this policy and her Catholic beliefs about gender and sexuality in her store and on the store’s website. However, doing so is illegal under Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance, which forbids communications that could lead someone to feel “unwelcome” based on various protected traits.”

Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community attend the “Say Gay Anyway” rally in Miami Beach, Florida on March 13, 2022. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

In the 52-page complaint, ADF argues that compelling speech from a religious small business would “stifle” the unique “diversity” of places like Queen of Angels Catholic Bookstore. The lawsuit described the city’s law as one in a “disturbing trend” and said it was on a “collision course with the First Amendment” and the Catholic faith.

Similar laws exist in states such as Colorado, which is also undergoing a lawsuit from a Christian web designer Lorie Smith, who claims that the state is compelling speech by forcing her to promote same-sex marriage or an LGBTQ lifestyle if asked by a client, despite her religious convictions.

Hal Frampton, senior counsel at ADF, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the purpose of the bookstore is to make its “Catholic faith known.”

“Under Jacksonville law, Christie DeTrude, the owner of Queen of Angels, and her employees are denied the ability to speak according to their religious beliefs. This law extends to what they can say on their store website and YouTube page, forbidding Christie to communicate anything that would lead someone to feel ‘unwelcome.’ Christie and every employee at Queen of Angels serves everyone, but they can not speak messages that go against their religious beliefs.”

The City of Jacksonville did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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