The law mostly applies to businesses that serve the general public. However, according to guidance from the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, churches that hold “secular” events like “a spaghetti dinner…open to the general public” are under the statute during such events. The Commission is the state agency tasked with creating policies to enforce the law.
As The Stream previously reported, this could lead to pastors in jail. From the Commission’s document: “Violation of the law shall be punished by a fine of not more than twenty-five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both…. In addition, the violator shall be liable to the aggrieved person for damages.”
Republican state Rep. Jim Lyons told Conservative Review that the bill “was never about [preventing] discrimination.”
“[I]t has always been about forcing a radical social agenda on the people of Massachusetts. … Our religious freedoms are now being trampled on by the radicals in Massachusetts,” Lyons said. “The bathroom bill is all about changing society,” and it “is eliminating our rights to privacy, our rights to protect our children and our rights to religious liberty.”
Washington Post legal analyst Eugene Volokh said the law could end up with pastors being punished if even members of the congregation didn’t use the government-approved language. A church that appears to tolerate language critical of transgender people can be accused of creating a “hostile environment,” and therefore “harassment.”