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Court: CA Doctors Can't Use Religious Beliefs to Deny Treatment to Gays

Religious freedom guarantees do not give California medical care providers the right to refuse to treat gay and lesbian patients, even if that treatment goes against the caregivers' religious beliefs, the California Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

The case arose when Guadalupe Benitez, a lesbian, sought treatment for fertility and pregnancy assistance at a California medical facility. Two physicians at the facility expressed their reluctance to perform a common artificial insemination technique on Benitez, based on the physicians' religious views. According to the Washington Post, Benitez asserts that what violated one physician's religious beliefs was Benitez's sexual orientation, while the physician claims that it was Benitez's unmarried status. In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court held that federal and California Constitution guarantees of free exercise of religion "do not exempt a medical clinic's physicians from complying with the California Unruh Civil Rights Act's prohibition against discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation."