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AU And Allies: Michigan Funeral Home Can’t Use Religion To Justify Discrimination Against Transgender Employee

Aimee Stephens worked for six years at a Detroit funeral home. Then, she came out as transgender and announced that she would begin to live publicly as a woman, which would include dressing consistent with her gender identity.

Two weeks later, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes fired her. Why? The funeral-home owner said Aimee’s behavior contradicted his religious beliefs.

Americans United And Allies File Legal Brief In Support Of Transgender Woman Fired By Michigan Funeral Home

Religious-Liberty Organizations And Faith Leaders Argue Business Owner Can’t Cite Religious Beliefs To Justify Discrimination

Americans United for Separation of Church and State was joined by 76 faith leaders and 13 religious and civil-rights organizations in urging a federal appeals court to rule that a Michigan funeral home had violated a transgender employee’s civil rights when it fired her for wearing women’s clothing in accordance with her gender identity.

Fringe Mich. Catholic Group Attacks AU After Being Criticized On Blog

After Americans United published a blog post about a fringe far-right Catholic TV network in Michigan that wants to tear down the wall between church and state, the group, Church Militant, went on the attack.

AU Director of Communications Rob Boston on Feb. 24 wrote on AU’s “Wall of Separation” blog about Church Militant and its leader, Michael Voris, who has talked of establishing a “Catholic monarch” and state religion.

Americans United Hails Federal Appeals Court’s Ruling In Mich. Government Prayer Case

Court Notes That Resident Who Brought Case Was Ridiculed By Jackson County Officials

A federal appeals court today ruled that county commissioners in Jackson County, Mich., may not open their meetings by personally delivering prayers that are exclusively Christian in nature.

The case, Bormuth v. County of Jackson, was brought by a local resident who is a Druid and who opposed the prayer policy. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in Peter Bormuth’s favor.

Americans United says the court made the right call.

Michigan Appeals Court Affirms Grand Haven’s Right To Remove Cross

A Michigan appeals court has affirmed the city of Grand Haven’s right to remove a giant cross that once was displayed on city property.

Grand Haven Council in 2015 ended its policy of displaying the 48-foot-tall cross after Americans United filed a complaint objecting to displays of the cross for religious services and other occasions, as well as a display of a nativity scene in December.

Betsy DeVos Is Known For Promoting Vouchers, But Her Take On Charter Schools Also Raises Religious-Liberty Concerns

President-elect Donald Trump has picked Betsy DeVos to head the U.S. Education Department. DeVos is infamous for leading the crusade to create private school vouchers, but she’s also known for her Wild West approach to charter schools – and that should worry religious-liberty watchdogs. 

AU Files Legal Briefs In Two Cases Dealing With Religious Symbols

Americans United recently filed two legal briefs in cases challenging the display of religious symbols on government property:

In a Dec. 17 brief, Americans Uni­ted told the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a Pennsylvania woman and her minor child should be permitted to sue the New Kensington-Arnold School District over a Ten Commandments display at a local high school.

Taking the Plunge: What Happens if the Supreme Court Grants Marriage Equality to LGBT Couples

Editor’s Note: The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014-15 term is coming to a close, and a landmark ruling on marriage equality is pending. In light of that, “The Wall of Separation” asked AU’s Legal Department to examine the three possible outcomes in this case. In this blog post, Gregory Lipper, senior litigation counsel, and Matthew Russo, an AU legal intern, discuss what will likely happen if the high court extends marriage equality nationwide.

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