Yet gains made in recent years have triggered aggressive backlash from opponents of LGBT equality, halting or reversing some recent advances. In Julyit filed a brief adopting the stance that Title VII does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation, and in Octoberit issued a memorandum concluding that it also does not cover discrimination based on gender identity. Against this backdrop of legal vulnerability, lawmakers who oppose marriage for same-sex couples and recent moves to advance transgender equality have led an anti-LGBT charge, pushing for, and often succeeding in getting, new laws that carve out religious exemptions for individuals who claim that compliance with particular laws interferes with their religious or moral beliefs. From August to Januaryresearchers interviewed LGBT people, service providers, and advocates, primarily in states that have enacted religious exemptions in recent years, about the discrimination that LGBT people have faced because of an absence of comprehensive nondiscrimination legislation and the passage of legislation that provides for exemptions based on religious or moral beliefs. Krista Contreras, whose newborn daughter had been refused service by a pediatrician who had religious objections to same-sex couples, described how that experience lingered nearly three years after the refusal: If passed, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act would prohibit the federal government and state governments that receive federal funding from declining to work with child welfare agencies that discriminate based on religious beliefs or moral convictions. Without these protections, LGBT people across the United States lack clear recourse and redress when they are fired, evicted, or refused service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Interviews were conducted in person in Mississippi in NovemberTennessee in Decemberand Michigan, Mississippi, and Tennessee in January
“All We Want is Equality”
In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Most Viewed February 9, Dispatches. The framing and scope of these exemption laws differ in many respects, but are alike in several fundamental ways. Second, as statutory provisions, religious exemption laws can override other protections that may exist for LGBT people. In this context, these laws function first and foremost as a license to discriminate, signaling that discrimination against LGBT people is acceptable in the state. January 25, Dispatches. First, they are motivated to a large degree by hostility to recent advances in LGBT equality; on their face they invoke only a concern for religious liberty but the public debate around and legislative history of many of these laws show quite clearly the animus and the discriminatory intent that underpin them.
It was not until a lesbian friend recommended a doctor whose services she had used that they decided to try again. Inlawmakers in at least six other states will consider similar legislation. In an interview with Human Rights Watch, one same-sex couple noted that they had been turned away from three different foster care agencies because of their sexual orientation. But when exemptions to laws to accommodate religious beliefs or practices impinge on the rights of others or core societal values like nondiscrimination, lawmakers should proceed with caution. In a lawsuit filed infor example, Jack Zawadski sued a Mississippi funeral home for breach of contract and emotional distress, alleging that the home had agreed to transport and cremate the body of his late husband, Robert Huskey, only to renege on the verbal contract when it found out they were a same-sex couple. Religious exemptions not only license the kinds of refusals discussed above, but encourage people to expect and fear discrimination and adapt accordingly. Our interviewees explained that, by enacting religious exemptions to blunt the advancement of LGBT equality, lawmakers sent a powerful signal that they were unequal or unvalued in their community.