June marks Pride Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the strides made toward LGBTQ equality and the many LGBTQ activists that fought to achieve them. This Pride Month and every month, Americans United is proud to stand with our LGBTQ neighbors and oppose discrimination in the name of religion.
Pride Month, according the Library of Congress, is “celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.”
Recently, there have been many victories in the struggle for LGBTQ rights: marriage equality is the law of the land, and there are a growing number of protections in place against LGBTQ discrimination. But attempts to use religion as an excuse to ignore these and other antidiscrimination laws are a major threat to this progress. That’s why we continue to stand up for the LGBTQ community.
AU is representing Samantha Brookover and Amanda Abramovich of West Virginia, a couple harassed by a county clerk while seeking a marriage license in 2016. The clerk called them an “abomination” and said that God will “deal” with them.
Now, this brave couple is suing in federal court to ensure that this type of harassment doesn’t happen to other same-sex couples seeking a marriage license in the future. The U.S. Constitution guarantees equal treatment under the law and bars this type of discrimination. USA TODAY recently recognized Samantha and Amanda’s bravery by adding them to their “Faces of Pride” project that features LGBTQ people and their allies from each of the 50 states.
Additionally, although there is increasing public awareness of issues relating to gender identity and expression, there are also limited legal protections for transgender people.
AU celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling in 2015.
That’s why we were proud to file briefs in support of Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old, transgender high-school senior fighting for the right to use the public school restroom that aligns with his gender identity. In briefs filed with both the U.S. Supreme Court and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, AU argues that religiously motivated discrimination is unconstitutional and that basic civil rights such as being able to use a public restroom cannot be governed by some community members’ religious beliefs.
It’s also why we are proud to stand with Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman who was fired from a Michigan funeral home because she did not conform to her boss’s religious beliefs about gender identity. We were joined by 76 faith leaders and 14 religious freedom organizations in filing a brief in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Stephens, arguing that religion is no excuse to discriminate against transgender employees.
Cases like these remind us why it’s important to fight back against discrimination in the name of religion. We stand for equality, fairness and religious freedom. Everyone should be free to believe or not believe, but no one’s religious beliefs should be used to harm others.
This Sunday, June 11, we’re proud to be an exhibitor at the Capital Pride Festival in Washington, D.C. If you’re in the area, we hope you stop by to learn more about our work. Or check for Pride events in your local community where you can show your support for the LGBTQ community. You can download our “Keep your Dogma off my Rights!” rally sign to show off during these festivals, and if you share photos on Twitter, be sure to tag us @americansunited!
Nobody should have their rights denied because of religious objections to equality. AU will continue opposing any attempts to use religion to restrict the rights of the LGBTQ community or anyone else. For more on how we fight to protect against religion-based discrimination, check out AU's Protect Thy Neighbor project.