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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 for 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 themselves transgender and gender non-binary.

De Pere officials approved the ordinance last year to prohibit employers, businesses and landlords from discriminating against people for their gender identity or expression.

Five churches and a company that owns a Christian radio station filed a lawsuit 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 had time to review the judge’s order.

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