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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.

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, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported.

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 Lakeshore Communications, which owns Christian radio station Q90FM, sued in February, arguing that they should be free to hire employees that align with their religious beliefs. The original complaint noted that Christ the Rock Community Church in Harrison requires people to use bathrooms that correspond to their biological sex.

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


Information from: Press-Gazette Media,

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