If this were a normal year, Americans United staff members would be making plans to attend Capital Pride, the annual festival celebrating LGBTQ rights in the nation’s capital. For years Americans United has sponsored a table at the event, where we distribute information about our work (as well as AU-themed swag), talk with attendees and answer questions.
Alas, this isn’t a normal year – not yet, anyway. While people are starting to reemerge from the pandemic, the lifting of restrictions didn’t happen soon enough to hold all of the in-person Pride festivities in D.C. this year. We look forward to seeing everyone in 2022!
LGBTQ equality has made a lot of progress in recent years. Support for non-discrimination laws, marriage equality and other LGBTQ-friendly policies are at an all-time high. But we know there’s still a lot of work to do. Christian nationalist organizations remain a powerful political presence in Congress and in state legislatures, and they’re doing all they can to block LGBTQ rights.
With that thought in mind, here are some important steps we need to take to ensure that LGBTQ Americans have the full measure of rights:
Support the Equality Act. Currently, LGBTQ Americans are subject to a patchwork of state and local laws. Some places provide a lot of protection, others provide none. We simply can’t have a system where a person’s rights vacillate wildly as he or she crosses state borders. It’s time to pass the Equality Act, federal legislation that would provide clear, consistent protections for LGBTQ Americans (as well as for women, people of color and others) in key areas, such as employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs and jury service. The act would also ensure that religious freedom is not misused to create loopholes to undermine these protections.
Support the Do No Harm Act. The Do No Harm Act would amend a 1993 federal law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to make it clear that assertions of religious freedom can’t be used to take away the rights of others or do them harm. For LGBTQ people, the ramifications could be far-reaching. The Do No Harm Act would protect them from discrimination and denials of services by both government agencies and private entities.
Oppose attacks on transgender rights. Transgender rights have become Christian nationalists’ new front in the culture wars. Across the country, a slew of bills is being considered that would roll back the rights of transgender Americans in public education and other settings. (Some have already become law.) Other bills would protect cruel fundamentalists who mis-gender trans people and refuse to respect their rights and indeed their very identities. In addition to pushing bills, Christian nationalist legal groups are attacking trans rights in court. AU and its allies have been heartened to see the Biden administration lift discriminatory anti-trans policies, such as the ban on trans troops in the military, but there’s more to be done.
Be a good ally by opposing hate. Even as support for LGBTQ rights hits new highs, religious extremists continue to spew hate. Part of this is defensive; these groups know they’re on the losing side of history. The culture has moved beyond their narrow views – but they don’t intend to go down quietly. By exposing the hateful views of Christian nationalists, which AU does regularly on this blog and in the pages of Church & State, we aim to help even more Americans understand the threat of religious extremism and equip them with the tools to fight it.
Americans United’s work has helped bring us closer to our country’s ideals of freedom and equality for everyone, where all are welcome and respected and religious extremists have no power to relegate some people to second-class citizenship because of who they are or who they love.
That is our vision. We are proud of it. We work toward it every day. Your support helps us bring it to life.