Judge: De Pere gender identity policy violates church rights

DE PERE, Wis. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a northeastern Wisconsin city's ordinance barring discrimination based on gender identity violates the religious freedom of local churches.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that Brown County Judge William Atkinson ruled last week that churches in De Pere should be exempt from a city ordinance protecting those who identify as transgender and gender non-binary.

De Pere officials approved the ordinance last year to prohibit employers, businesses and landlords from discriminating against individuals based on gender identity or expression.

Five churches and a company that owns a Christian radio station sued in February, arguing that they should be free to hire employees that align with their beliefs.

City attorney Judy Schmidt-Lehman declined to comment until the City Council reviews the judge's order.

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