Americans United on May 8 announced its support for the Equality Act, groundbreaking legislation pending in Congress that, if passed, will offer long overdue protections for LGBTQ Americans from discrimination and intolerance. It will also ensure that religious freedom is not misused to create loopholes that would ultimately undermine these protections.
The Equality Act (H.R. 5) would affirm and clarify that existing protections from sex discrimination in federal law include protections based on people's sexual orientation and gender identity--and make it clear that religion cannot be misused to justify discrimination.
The act would provide clear, consistent protections nationwide across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs and jury service.
The proposed legislation would close longstanding gaps in existing civil rights laws by barring sex discrimination by federally funded programs and businesses open to the public, and it would expand protections against discrimination on the basis of race, religion and national origin in public spaces.
Critically, the act contains language ensuring that its provisions can't be overridden by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Passed in 1993, RFRA is a federal law that was intended to protect religious freedom, especially for religious minorities. It has since been misinterpreted and misused to justify harmful religious exemptions that allow discrimination against the LGBTQ community, women and religious minorities.
The Equality Act affirms that religion does not give businesses, employers, schools, landlords and others a license to discriminate. Passing the act would be a major step forward in stopping the Religious Right's aggressive agenda to...