Black queer woman protected by the Separation of church and state

Defending LGBTQ People

LGBTQ Rights

Defending LGBTQ People From Attacks By Religious Extremists

The separation of church and state protects LGBTQ equality by ensuring that religion can’t be used to deny LGBTQ civil rights protections. Everyone should be able to live openly without fear of discrimination.

To live and love as you see fit—that’s something most Americans take for granted. But for LGBTQ people, it’s never a given. Religious extremists want to block the advancement of LGBTQ rights and erase the gains we have made. But, the foundational principle of separation of church and state protects LGBTQ people from these attacks by promising freedom without favor and equality without exception.

Wielding a bogus definition of religious freedom as a weapon, religious extremists seek to deny LGBTQ people their rights, their dignity, and sometimes their very existence.

AU fights back every day to ensure that no person faces discrimination because of someone else’s religious beliefs.

The most important issues we're facing


What You Need to Know

AU Supports the Equality Act

The Equality Act will provide comprehensive nationwide civil rights protections to LGBTQ people. It’s endorsed by more than 600 civil rights, education, health care, and advocacy organizations, including more than 100 faith groups.

The Do No Harm Act

The Do No Harm Act is a critical bill in Congress that will help protect everyone’s religious freedom while ensuring that no one can misuse it to harm others.

Americans Oppose Discrimination Against LGBTQ People in the Name of Religion

People in need should be able to get the help they need, period. But some faith-based organizations that receive taxpayer money to provide social services to the public falsely argue that they have a religious-freedom right to discriminate against whom they serve.

Milestones

  • November 8, 2021

    November 8, 2021: President Joe Biden’s Department of Labor announced plans to rescind a Trump rule that allowed federal contractors to discriminate against workers and job applicants in the name of religion. The Trump rule made it easier for federal contractors, which employ more than one-fifth of the entire U.S. workforce, to discriminate against LGBTQ people, women, religious minorities and the nonreligious.

    Read AU’s comments supporting the Biden proposed rule here

  • Kamala Harris and Cory Booker supporting the Do No Harm Act September 2021

    Senator Cory Booker took on the mantle from Vice President Kamala Harris of the main sponsor of the Do No Harm in the Senate. U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott, Steve Cohen, Jamie Raskin, and Mary Gay Scanlon reintroduced the bill in the House in February 2021. The DNHA will restore the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to its original intent by preserving the law’s power to protect religious freedom, while also clarifying that it may not be used to harm others.

  • Separation of church and state protects LGBTQ people June 17, 2021

    In Fulton v. Philadelphia, the Supreme Court allowed a taxpayer-funded, faith-based foster care agency to reject LGBTQ parents in violation of city nondiscrimination provisions. Because the narrow ruling only applies to Philadelphia, AU continues to fight in court on behalf of Aimee Maddonna, Fatma Marouf and Bryn Esplin – who were turned away by taxpayer-funded foster care agencies because they didn’t pass the agencies’ religious tests.

    Read Americans United’s response to the Fulton decision.

  • December 2020

    December 2020: Americans United releases an Agenda to Restore & Protect Religious Freedom, which lists 10 steps the incoming Biden-Harris administration can take to undo the damage done to religious freedom and church-state separation during the Trump years.

    Learn more about our agenda here

  • Separation of church and state protects LGBTQ people's health care rights Nov. 19, 2019

    In response to a lawsuit brought by AU and allies, federal judges blocked the Trump administration’s Denial of Care Rule, which invited health care providers to cite their religious beliefs in denying care to anyone, even in emergencies. Though blocked, the rule remains on the books and AU continues to fight it on two fronts – in court and by urging the Biden administration to revoke it.

    Learn more about AU’s lawsuits challenging the Trump-era Denial of Care Rule

  • June 8, 2016

    An Alabama couple, Keith Ingram and Albert Pigg, fought for their right to a marriage license after state officials refused to issue them one. Americans United and allies secured a victory in federal court requiring state officials, including then-Alabama Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore, to recognize marriage equality. Moore was later removed from the court for his illegal activities.

    Read about this important victory!

  • Separation of church and state protects LGBTQ people's marriage equality June 26, 2015

    When the push for marriage equality gained momentum nationwide, Americans United consistently argued that marriage policy should not be based on a set of religious beliefs. When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, AU celebrated, remarking, “Today love and the Constitution triumphed over bigotry and religious extremism.” But Obergefell spurred a vicious new effort by religious extremists to discriminate against LGBTQ people on religious grounds.

    Read AU’s statement about the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling.

Learn More About Americans United’s Latest Work

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BREAKING NEWS

Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.


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