Why is this important?
- LGBTQ and religious Americans increasingly find themselves in a lose-lose conflict with one another, resulting in ongoing lawsuits and endless cultural clashes.
- There is no federal law providing basic civil rights protections to LGBTQ Americans across all 50 states.
- In 29 states, LGBTQ Americans are at risk of being fired from their job, evicted from their home, or denied basic services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity without clear legal recourse.
- More than half of LGBTQ Americans have experienced some form of harassment or discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a recent Harvard study. One in five surveyed have been discriminated against in the process of applying for a job (20%), being paid equally or considered for a promotion (22%) or buying or renting a home (22%). (Harvard)
Why is now the time for a bipartisan solution?
- Partisan gridlock had stalled efforts to pass federal civil rights protections in Congress like the Equality Act and the Fairness for All Act.
- Given the current makeup of Congress, neither Act has a realistic chance of passing in its current form.
- In the current environment, LGBTQ rights can only garner enough political support to pass if they also include religious rights protected under the First Amendment.
- We have a unique opportunity before the 2022 Election to pass landmark legislation to extend civil rights protections to millions of Americans, but we must act now or we may lose our window to pass nondiscrimination legislation altogether.
Why should the government allow religious institutions to continue to receive federal dollars for social services and education?
- Religious organizations provide a massive amount of social services to the public - for example, 30% of all refugees are resettled by the Catholic Church’s Migration and Refugee Services and 58% of all beds for the homeless are provided by faith-based organizations.
- Religious organizations may not discriminate in their providing of most services such as homeless shelters and refugee resettlement. The Supreme Court recently upheld their right to discriminate in adoption services and while many may disagree with that, that is now a Constitutional protection an LGBTQ rights law must respect.
Why can’t we just solve these matters in the court system?
- Judicial decisions are narrowly tailored to the disputes they resolve and cannot provide a broad enough framework for a lasting solution. Resolving these issues in a fair, sustainable, and comprehensive way will require congressional leadership.
Are you confident that the LGBTQ and religious communities can find common ground on these issues?
- Yes. In fact, they already have. Leaders from the two communities have worked together for years. Collaboration between LGBTQ-rights groups and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints produced an open letter of support for the principles of non-discrimination and support from the Church helped pass and uphold a non-discrimination ordinance in Mesa, Ariz. in 2021, more than one hundred faith leaders have signed on to the letter.
- The Mesa ordinance has proven to be an effective, comprehensive framework for addressing anti-LGBTQ discrimination and preserving religious liberty.
- In the 21 states and over 300 municipalities that have civil rights protections for LGBTQ people, the vast majority – including states like California and New York – have exemptions for religious organizations.
- Faith leaders and LGBTQ organizations came together in Utah in 2020 to pass a statewide ban on conversion therapy.