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Advocate

 
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A TOOLKIT for  

Faith-Based Work & LGBTQ+ Rights: 

How to Have Fairness for All

CONTACT YOUR SENATORS

To amend the Equality Act (H.R.5) and to consider Fairness for All 

Dear Visitor: 

 

We invite you to join the Association of Public Justice (APJ) in our national effort to protect both the civil rights of LGBTQ+ persons and religious freedom.     

 

We are a Christian activist association strongly committed to a biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality. We are also convinced that the Great Commandment (Mark 12:30-31) and Golden Rule (Luke 6:21) point to a principled pluralist way of calling our government to uphold public justice so that the image of God is honored in everyone.  

 

Like our sister organization The Center for Public Justice (CPJ), we believe religious people and organizations and the LGBTQ+ community need not be at odds with one another in our country. The best way to protect religion is to protect the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination. The best way to secure nondiscrimination protection is to make sure that religion is not inadvertently harmed. 

 

This is why we are asking Congress to amend the Equality Act (H.R. 5), recently passed in the House of Representatives, while it is being considered in the Senate. The Equality Act as it now stands has the good intention of securing basic civil rights for LGBTQ+ people. However, it also unnecessarily undermines the rights and freedoms of religious people and organizations. For instance, as written the Equality Act denies federal funding to hundreds of synagogues, mosques, and religious schools for enhanced security against terror threats and excludes low-income students at religious colleges and universities from accessing needs-based government aid, including Pell grants.

 

The Senate Judiciary Committee began consideration of the Equality Act today. Please consider sharing your concerns by writing to your senators or by directly calling your senators' offices. APJ has developed an email template for you to use that lists some of the harms that the Equality Act imposes on religious freedom while also pointing to ways the Senate could amend the legislation. 

 

To personalize your email, please: 

1) Insert your senator’s name,

2) Indicate that you are a constituent, (if you voted for the senator, say so,) 

3) Include specific examples of how you or a faith-based institution you care about will be affected,

4) Rephrase some of the text in your own words.

 

We are happy to assist you at any point in this process. Please do not hesitate to contact us at (202) 503-9337 or contact@apjustice.org should you have any questions. Feel free to forward this to anyone who may want to add their voice to these efforts.

 

With gratitude, 

The Association for Public Justice

Read the full text of Fairness For All here. 

Email Template 

Dear Senator [insert name]: 

 

I am a constituent and a [blank] of the Association for Public Justice (APJ). APJ promotes public justice for Americans from all backgrounds and traditions. We celebrate our nation’s rich diversity and work to retain the rights and freedoms of all our citizens and civic associations, regardless of religious belief or sexual identity.  

 

[Or…] I am a constituent and a [board member, donor, beneficiary, alumni] of a faith-based nonprofit that provides [state the service(s) provided, not the name of the nonprofit].

 

I favor federal legislation securing civil rights protections nationwide for LGBTQ+ people.  Unfortunately, the Equality Act (H.R.5) as written fails to achieve this critical goal while unnecessarily undermining the rights and freedoms of many of our citizens. Significantly, the Equality Act diverges sharply from the balances between religious freedom and LGBTQ+ rights struck by similar state laws. In fact, no state law protecting LGBTQ+ rights has curtailed religious freedom to the extent outlined in the current bill. 

 

The Senate must amend the Act to ensure that both religious people and organizations and the LGBTQ+ population are protected and treated fairly. Faith-based organizations of all kinds, and the individuals they serve, are all vital parts of our country. Participating in these organizations is a constitutionally protected exercise of religion. And their distinctively religious impulse is essential as they serve their communities and form their members to serve the common good. 

 

Yet, the Equality Act currently reclassifies houses of worship as public accommodations.  This subjects them to requirements that may violate their core religious beliefs. More generally, the Equality Act currently erodes the religious freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. It also removes the protections of the bipartisan Religious Freedom Restoration Act and denies the right to present a defense in court of any person or organization charged with illegal discrimination while living out their religious beliefs.

 

[You could add a paragraph about the specific harms the faith-based nonprofit you are affiliated with will be harmed, and the detriment it would be to their ability to serve.]  

 

The Equality Act, in its current form:

  • Denies houses of worship access to federal disaster aid from FEMA.

  • Denies federal funding to hundreds of synagogues, mosques, and religious schools for enhanced security against terror threats. 

  • Terminates the eligibility of students at religious schools to participate in the National School Lunch Program. 

  • Excludes faith-based adoption and foster care providers from federal funding.

  • Compels many faith-based homeless or domestic violence shelters to close their doors. 

  • Prevents religious colleges and universities from hiring staff and faculty consistent with the institution’s beliefs.

  • Excludes low-income students at religious colleges and universities from accessing needs-based government aid, including Pell grants.

 

For all these reasons, I ask you to work to amend the Equality Act before Congress sends it to the President. Please consider legislation like the Fairness for All Act, which guards LGBTQ+ rights while protecting religious freedom. The Fairness for All Act was designed to expand federal civil rights laws to protect LGBTQ+ persons while guaranteeing religious freedom for faith-based organizations. I strongly encourage you to modify the Equality Act to align with the goals and provisions of the Fairness for All Act. 

 

Thank you for your consideration and your service to our country. 

 

Respectfully,

[Your name]

[Your contact information]

 

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