Biden transgender health mandate blocked by federal court in Christian alliance's appeal

Judge says no government agency should evaluate 'sincerity of another's religious beliefs'

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A federal district court Monday temporarily blocked the enforcement of two Biden administration mandates forcing both nonprofit and for-profit religious employers and health care providers to pay for and perform transgender medical procedures and counseling even if these measures violate the employers' or providers' religious beliefs.

District Judge Daniel M. Traynor of the U.S. District Court of North Dakota ruled that the Christian Employers Alliance "has shown a likelihood of success on the merits" in its case. 

"No government agency ought to be in the business of evaluating the sincerity of another’s religious beliefs," Traynor wrote. 

Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra

Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra (Shawn Thew/Pool via AP, File)

"HHS Guidance encourages a parent to file a complaint if a medical provider refuses to gender transition their child, of any age, including an infant," the judge noted. "The thought that a newborn child could be surgically altered to change gender is the result of the Biden HHS Notification and HHS Guidance that brands a medical professional’s refusal to do so as discrimination. Indeed, the HHS Guidance specifically invites the public to file complaints for acting in a manner the Alliance says is consistent with their sincerely held religious beliefs."

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"Beyond the religious implications, the Biden HHS Notification and resulting HHS Guidance frustrate the proper care of gender dysphoria, where even among adults who experience the condition, a diagnosis occurs following the considered involvement of medical professionals," the judge added. "By branding the consideration as ‘discrimination,’ the HHS prohibits the medical profession from evaluating what is best for the patient in what is certainly a complex mental health question."

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission seal inside a hearing room at headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission seal inside a hearing room at headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images, File)

The Christian Employers Alliance, represented by the Christian law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, claims that the Biden administration violated its free exercise rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, and its free speech rights. 

The alliance claimed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the HHS Office of Civil Rights and its agents misinterpreted Section 1157 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known as ObamaCare – when sending guidance interpreting denial of transgender medical procedures and counseling as discrimination on the basis of sex.

Neither the EEOC nor HHS responded to Fox News' requests for comment.

The mandates would force religious employers and health care providers to pay for and perform surgeries, procedures, counseling and treatments that seek to alter a patient's biological sex, even if such actions violate the employers' or providers' convictions.

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"The administration’s mandates are crippling for the countless Christian-owned and operated businesses seeking to care well for their employees without the fear of punishing fines, burdensome litigation costs, the loss of federal funds, and even criminal penalties," Christian Employers Alliance President Shannon Royce said in a statement on the ruling. 

"As stewards of the health and safety of our valued employees, it is unconscionable and unconstitutional to be mandated to provide, pay for, or promote services and procedures that directly contradict our deeply held religious beliefs," Royce added. "We are pleased that we can continue to act consistent with those beliefs while our lawsuit proceeds and look forward to ultimately prevailing with our case."

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"All employers and health care providers, including those in the Christian Employers Alliance, have the constitutional right to conduct their business and render treatment in a manner consistent with their deeply held religious beliefs," ADF Legal Counsel Jacob Reed, who argued before the court on behalf of CEA, said in a statement Monday.

"The employers we represent believe that God purposefully created humans as either male or female, and so it would violate their religious beliefs to pay for or perform life-altering medical procedures or surgeries that seek to change one’s biological sex," Reed added. "The court was on firm ground to halt enforcement of these unlawful mandates that disrespect people of faith."