It is essential that we launch 2016 remaining staunch against efforts to create religious carve-outs, to expand beyond all recognition what religious freedom really means, and to turn civil rights laws perversely into tools for discrimination.
The Sedona, Arizona, City Council amended the City Code to include a new chapter prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations, employment and housing on the basis of race, color, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, marital status, familial status, age, disability or veteran status.
More than 100 state bills so far have aimed to use religious beliefs as an excuse for discrimination. The idea is to allow businesses and public employees to mistreat LGBT people and consider married same-sex couples as unmarried.
Today Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline, together with lead co-sponsors Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), introduced the Equality Act, a bill to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, credit, education, and jury service.
The following presentation was provided by Jennifer C. Pizer, Lambda Legal Law & Policy Project National Director, at a briefing convened by U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott on the harms of federal and state Religious Freedom and Restoration Acts (RFRA).