For years, the religious right has deceived a lie: that its opposition to protections against LGBTQ discrimination has to do with, or is even demanded by, religion. He even sometimes twisted the meaning of religious freedom to make this point.
But as shown by his opposition to the Equality Act, which passed the House on Thursday, the idea that LGBTQ non-discrimination protections undermine protections for religious Americans is a false truth.
The Equality Act would expand protections for religious Americans by updating public spaces where civil rights law applies. Under current federal law, it’s perfectly legal to discriminate against someone in a retail store or taxi, for example, for being visibly Christian (or Muslim or Hindu – or whatever). The Equality Act would ensure that the religious freedom of Americans is protected in these places, preserve all of the religious freedom provisions of our current civil rights laws, and protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination in housing, d employment and public accommodation.
This truth did not stand in the way of opponents of the legislation. “The equality law would discriminate against believers,” warned a group of Catholic bishops; Franklin Graham warned it was “very dangerous”. Similar exhortations have been made against the bill in recent years: TV evangelist Pat Robertson told his audience in 2019: “If you want to pass God’s judgment on this nation, just keep this stuff,” and l radio host Eric Metaxas that year called the legislation “madness.”
The strong and often sectarian opposition of the religious right to the equality law masks the fact that most Americans who identify as religious support this legislation.
As the weakness of the religious right’s arguments have become increasingly visible, and more Americans who identify as religious reject the decrees to discriminate, his fear-mongering about the dignity of LGBTQ people has changed. , both in recent decades and more recently. . These days, it aims to scare Americans about transgender people, from their participation in youth sports to standards of medical care for transgender youth, about which vicious fictions are spouting. All of his scare-mongering is based on lies or stereotypes, such as those proven to be incorrect in states that already have protections against discrimination for LGBTQ youth playing sports.
But facts have never stopped Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Before. She captured the essence of opposition to the equality law in the House on Wednesday in a speech that scorns all transgender Americans and steeped in religious rhetoric. She then proceeded to do the opposite of ‘love your neighbor’ by identifying and attacking the transgender daughter of Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill., In tweets and then with a sign outside her own Capitol Hill office, which she also spoke. tweeted.
Yet it’s not just the lies the religious right tells about transgender youth or religious freedom that should bother other Americans of faith: its strong and often sectarian opposition to the equality law masks the fact that most Americans who identify as religious support this. legislation.
The vast majority of Americans – 83% – support laws that would protect gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people from discrimination in employment, public housing and housing. This includes the majority of all major religious groups in the country, according to the Institute for Research on Public Religion. Even 59% of white evangelical Protestants – the largest and most trusted bloc of conservative religious voters – support the type of protection in equality law.
As the weakness of the religious right’s arguments became more and more visible, its fear-mongering about the dignity of LGBTQ people changed.
Americans of all religious backgrounds also reject the distorted framework of “religious freedom” of religious right-wing opposition to the equality law, as Greene pointed out Wednesday. When one has the choice between these two statements – “Everyone is free to follow their religious beliefs and practices in their personal life, provided they do not harm others” and “Everyone is free to follow their religious beliefs and practices in all areas of their lives, including doing their job, even if that means excluding certain groups of people ”- 89% of Americans, along with the majority of all major religious groups, chose the former.
This is all part of the reasons more than 100 faith-based organizations have approved the Equality Act, including Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian Universalist, and Hindu groups. And faith groups that recognize the dignity of LGBTQ people have a staunch ally in the White House: President Joe Biden – one of the most openly religious presidents since Jimmy Carter – has made the equality law a priority for its administration.
While it does not represent the majority of Americans of faith on this issue, the religious right will do all it can in the coming weeks to derail the equality law by claiming to represent these same Americans. It is certainly its prerogative to advocate against civil rights, but Americans deserve to know that religious communities and believers broadly support this historic legislation.
And most religious Americans understand that the answer to LGBTQ discrimination that most conforms to the highest standards of their various traditions is to enact laws that protect everyone.
Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, delivered a powerful witness Thursday in the House when he said, “God created every person in this room,” referring to his LGBTQ colleagues. “Are you saying that God made a mistake? This is not about God. It is about men who choose to discriminate against others because they have the power to do so.”
He then voted with the majority of his colleagues, representing the majority of Americans, in favor of this historic civil rights legislation.