June marks Pride Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the strides made toward LGBTQ equality and the many LGBTQ activists who 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.”
At Americans United, we continue to fight in the courts, legislatures and through grassroots activism to ensure that religious freedom is not used to harm the LGBTQ community and others.
That’s why this Saturday, June 9, we are proud to be marching with the LGBTQ community, allies and activists in the Capital Pride Parade. And on Sunday, June 10, 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 and Instagram, be sure to tag us @americansunited!
Now more than ever is the time to show solidarity to the LGBTQ community. Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly ruled in favor of a bakery that refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case.
Although this was a disappointment, the court did not say that a business has a religion-based right to refuse to serve same-sex couples, and it is important that the American public continues to stand up for the rights of marginalized people everywhere to ensure that religion is not used to hurt the LGBTQ community.
Discrimination against the LGBTQ community brings real harm to real people. In the June issue of AU’s magazine, Church & State, I spoke to multiple members of the LGBTQ community who shared their experience about what it's like to be mistreated and discriminated against because of someone else's religion.
Sruti Swaminathan, an Indian American lawyer who identifies as queer, said that there have been a number of instances in which her sexuality and gender presentation has led to personal experiences with discrimination and harassment, including a time when a Men’s Warehouse in Washington, D.C. refused to provide her service and told her “we can’t help you here” because of her gender presentation.
“It’s a shame that people fear those who are unlike them, so far as to let a person’s gender identity and sexual orientation impact their ability to treat them with human dignity,” Swaminathan said. “It is a loss of a meaningful human connection to turn someone away from a business based on an identity so innate and immutable to their person.”
Instances like these are unfortunately not uncommon for members of the LGBTQ community. Even people who have not been explicitly discriminated against constantly worry about the possibility of hate speech and discrimination.
This includes people like Ayesha Malik, a culturally Muslim queer woman who asked AU to use a pseudonym for her own safety.
“As a queer person of color, I already walk around in public with the knowledge that the people I interact with might treat me coldly or awkwardly, might single me out or completely ignore me, might assume bad intentions or judge me, because of my skin color or my appearance or my partner, and all of the assumptions people attach to those things,” Malik said.
These types of stories are why AU continues opposing any attempts to use religion to restrict the rights of the LGBTQ community and make them feel unsafe.
We’re also supporting important legislation like the Do No Harm Act, which protects religious freedom and equal protection under the law. As AU’s president and CEO Rachel Laser recently wrote in an Advocate op-ed: “Religious freedom should never be used to deny government-funded emergency housing to a teenager because he is gay, to deny reproductive health care to a victim of human trafficking who is getting government-funded services, or to deny a loving, stable home to a child in the state’s foster care system because the prospective parents are a same-sex couple.”
You can help by encouraging your members of Congress to support the Do No Harm Act. Nobody should have their rights denied because of religious objections to equality. We hope you join us at Pride show your support for the LGBTQ community. For more on how we fight to protect against religion-based discrimination, check out AU's Protect Thy Neighbor project.