Religious Freedom Bills Pave the Way for Widespread Discrimination Against LGBTQ Community
Feb 27, 2017 10:29 AM EST
Efforts towards passing “religious freedom” bills have been reinforced at the state level. According to advocates of LGBTQ rights, such attempts merely demonstrate local legislators’ anticipation for support from President Donald Trump’s administration.
In Alabama, for instance, a religious freedom bill permits religious adoption agencies to stick to their faith when carrying out the adoption process. Therefore, if they do not think that a same-sex couple is capable of being good parents, the agencies will not push through with the adoption. On the other hand, the psychiatric community states there has been no evidence that same-sex parents bring harm to children.
Termed as the Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, this religious freedom bill was proposed two years ago and has gained momentum since Trump won the election. It is currently included in the list for the Alabama State Senate GOP agenda.
"This bill has been fast-tracked through the House of Representatives with support from both Senate and House Republican leadership," said Eva Kendrick of the LGBTQ rights group, Human Rights Campaign. Aside from the bill in Alabama, other states, such as Texas and South Dakota, have also been found to enforce religious freedom bills. "Since this particular executive order draft leaked out, we've seen a number of states really begin the process of moving those bills," HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow said.
While critics were preoccupied with the discriminatory bathroom bill introduced by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a number of Republican state senators proposed an anti-LGBT religious freedom measure. According to the Senate Bill 651, private individuals employed in over 65 licensed occupations have the permission to deny services to individuals based on their religious beliefs.
For instance, if a physician refused to offer services to a gay client on the basis of his sexual orientation, the SB 651 will stop the state from taking action against the former. Critics have then referred to this legislation as one of the most dangerous religious freedom bills debated by state lawmakers in the past years.
According to Eunice Hyon Min Rho, who serves as ACLU’s counsel for advocacy and policy, the SB 651 will pave the way for widespread discrimination against the LGBTQ community, the women who seek reproductive health and many others. “This is incredibly broadly written,” said Rho, who regularly checks religious freedom bills across the country. “It’s just really alarming. There are no limitations to this bill.”