The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian conservative law group, on Monday withdrew a lawsuit challenging a Massachusetts law prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.

Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed the law in July that broadens Massachusetts laws banning discrimination against transgender people in bathrooms and public accommodations.

ADF is representing four churches and their pastors who claim that houses of worship are exempt from such laws even when they are engaged in public, commercial and secular activities.

In its notice of voluntary dismissal, ADF attorneys noted that the attorney general's website was updated to clarify under which circumstances a church is considered a public venue.
“The law does not apply to a religious organization if subjecting the organization to the law would violate the organization's First Amendment rights,” the new guidance states. “However, a religious organization may be subject to the Commonwealth's public accommodation law if it engages in or its facilities are used for a 'public, secular function.'”

Gary Buseck, legal director for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), called ADF's claims “baseless.”

“The claim made by the plaintiffs was from the outset breathtaking in its audacity,” Buseck said in a statement. “Their assertion that churches are completely excused from complying with non-discrimination statutes has no foundation in the law. To the contrary, Massachusetts courts have struck an important balance between principles of non-discrimination and religious liberty – applying the public accommodations law to entities, including religious ones, when engaged in secular activities and not applying the law to entities when engaged in any religious activities.”

“We are glad to see ADF withdraw its baseless claim but stand prepared to ensure that when churches engage in non-religious activities, they are bound by the law just like everyone else,” he added.

Another challenge to the law arrives in 2018, when a public vote will decide whether it stays on the books.

(Related: Referendum to repeal Massachusetts transgender law to be on 2018 ballot.)