A California Court of Appeal has struck down a trial court ruling in favor of a Catholic hospital sued for not performing a sterilization procedure on a transgender individual for religious reasons.
In 2017, a transgender male named Evan Minton filed a complaint against Dignity Health, whose hospital Mercy San Juan Medical Center refused on religious grounds to perform an elective hysterectomy as part of a gender reassignment.
Presiding Justice Stuart Pollak of the Court of Appeals of California, First District, Division Four authored the opinion, which was released last week and reversed an earlier trial court decision and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Justice Pollak agreed with the plaintiff that Dignity Health’s refusal to perform the surgery likely violated California’s civil rights law, known as the Unruh Act.
“Denying a procedure as treatment for a condition that affects only transgender persons supports an inference that Dignity Health discriminated against Minton based on his gender identity,” wrote Justice Pollak.
Pollak, joined by appellate judges Alison Tucher and Tracie Brown, concluded that the case will be returned to the California Superior Court for San Francisco County “to enter a new and different order.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which is helping to represent Minton, explained in a press release last week that their client wanted the case to return to Superior Court to continue through the legal process.
“The Unruh Act promises full and equal access to public accommodations, yet Dignity Health refuses to provide necessary care to transgender patients,” said Elizabeth Gill, attorney with the ACLU of Northern California.
“We will continue to fight for the right to care for everyone, even if their local hospital has a religious affiliation.”
Prominent conservative writer David French denounced the decision in a column published by the National Review last week and considered it part of a growing number of attacks on religious liberty in left-leaning states.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski