March 21, 2022
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says it won’t review the case of a Seattle-based Christian organization that was sued after declining to hire a bisexual lawyer who applied for a job. A lower court let the case go forward, and the high court said Monday it wouldn’t intervene.
Two justices, Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas, agreed with the decision not to hear the case at this stage but said that “the day may soon come” when the court needs to confront the issue the case presents.
The case the high court declined to hear involves Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. In addition to providing food and shelter to the homeless the organization offers addiction recovery, job placement and legal services. In 2016 it was looking for an attorney to help staff its legal-aid clinic.
One of the applicants was Matthew Woods, who had volunteered at the clinic for more than three years. Woods identifies as bisexual and was in a same-sex relationship. He was told before he applied that his application would be rejected because the organization’s “code of conduct excludes homosexual activity.” Woods sued, arguing that the organization violated state law by discriminating against him on the basis of his sexual orientation.
A state trial court judge ruled for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and dismissed Woods’ lawsuit. The judge ruled that the organization is exempt from the state’s anti-discrimination law. But the Washington Supreme Court reversed the decision and let the lawsuit go forward.
The Supreme Court does already have a different high-profile dispute involving a clash between religion and the rights of LGBTQ people on its docket. That dispute involves a Colorado web designer who says her religious beliefs prevent her from offering wedding website designs to gay couples. That case is expected to be argued in the fall.