Monday, August 18, 2008

CA Supremes: Religion Not a Shield for Discrimination - Calif. Supreme Court: Religion Not a Shield for Discrimination
Three months after approving same-sex marriage, the California Supreme Court gave gay rights another boost Monday by unanimously ruling that doctors can't invoke religion to refuse treating homosexual patients (pdf).

"There's a great diversity of religious beliefs in California, and they're all protected," Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel in the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund's Los Angeles office, said in a prepared statement. "But not to the point where laws are violated and other people are hurt."

Coming on the heels of the marriage ruling in May, the opinion continued the California court's tradition of being sensitive to gay issues. In recent years, the justices have approved second-parent adoptions; strengthened non-biological parents' claims to parenthood in same-sex relationships; prevented businesses from discriminating against registered domestic partners; and approved municipal policies against doing business with groups that discriminate against gays.

Monday's case began in 2001 when Oceanside, Calif., lesbian Guadalupe Benitez sued Drs. Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton, who claimed their Christian faith prevented them from providing intrauterine insemination in some circumstances. The doctors, who worked at the North Coast Women's Care Medical Group in Vista, Calif., argued that they couldn't provide fertility treatments to Benitez because she wasn't married, but Benitez said they refused because of her sexual orientation...

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