The Christian charity that has spent millions of dollars defending the tax exemption of gay people from paying sales taxes on their wedding dresses says it has a “zero tolerance” policy for discrimination.
“We are not going for the money,” said Mike Coyle, a spokesperson for the International Christian Centre of Greater Cincinnati.
“If a business does discriminate, they are not welcome in our community.
We are here to make sure that people have the opportunity to worship with their loved ones.”
Coyle told The Cincinnati Enquirer that the centre’s position is a response to a series of court cases brought against the centre by gay couples who had filed lawsuits seeking the tax exemptions, saying the church’s policy violated their constitutional rights.
The centre is part of a nationwide movement by Christian groups to make the legal battle over same-sex marriage a national issue.
The US Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on the issue next week.
The International Christian Center of Greater Cleveland and the Cleveland Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Nazarene have spent millions to defend the policy, which is set to expire on March 31.
Coyle declined to comment on the centre or the cases brought by the gay couples, saying they are currently in litigation.
The centre’s policy is similar to the one used by other businesses, such as Starbucks and McDonalds, which allow customers to dress in their own wedding attire, and allow same-year returns.
But the International Christians say the tax breaks, while valid, are not enough.
Cultural sensitivity is a cornerstone of the Christian faith, the group said in a statement.
Coyle said the centre is trying to get other businesses to follow suit.
“There is no denying that we believe in a godly, loving God, and we are in the midst of a global battle for justice for gay and lesbian Christians,” he said.
“The international community has to step up and do more to defend our values.
I am hopeful that the next wave of international companies will come forward and help us defend our religious freedom and religious freedom.”
The International Christians, which describes itself as “the largest worldwide evangelical Christian church, ministry and educational institution,” has more than 3,300 members in more than 100 countries.
The group is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention.