(Not) Losing My Religion: People of Faith Advocating for LGBTQ Nondiscrimination

By Shane Stahl • April 10, 2020 • 2:53 pm

Each year during the month of April, people of different faiths observe periods they consider sacred — Passover for Jews, and Holy Week, Good Friday, and Easter for Christians. Regardless of one’s faith, there is strength in coming together to celebrate and share in traditions of old. While these observances will be very different for most people this year with the nation in the midst of a pandemic, the spirit remains the same.  

Increasingly, these celebrations include LGBTQ people who openly practice in their faith communities and are welcome by their congregations. People of all faith backgrounds are opening their hearts and minds to their LGBTQ friends, family, neighbors and coworkers, and standing firmly in favor of comprehensive nondiscrimination protections.   

This spirit of welcoming and inclusivity isn’t anecdotal either; the Public Religion Research Institute published a study in March of 2019 that showed the majority of people in all faiths support protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination.  

There’s also been real, tangible action from faith leaders speaking up for the community. In October 2019, 750 clergy, religious leaders and religious organizations submitted a brief to the Supreme Court saying that LGBTQ people should continue to be protected from employment  discrimination in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In 2017, nearly 1300 faith leaders filed a brief saying that businesses should not be allowed to discriminate against LGBTQ people and refuse them service.  

FFAA has been proud to work with many people of faith and faith leaders throughout our campaign to win nondiscrimination protections for all LGBTQ Americans: 

  • Rabbi Peter Berg of Atlanta takes pride in his faith being at the forefront of civil rights and social justice movements, saying, “For our community, this [LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections] isn’t a political issue. It’s just the right thing to do.” 
  • Merrie Smithson of Utah, a Mormon and proud mother of a gay son, testified before her state’s legislature on the need for LGBTQ people to be protected from discrimination. “As a mother, I want him to have the same freedoms we all enjoy. I want him to have the freedom to share his wonderful, real self. 
  • Reverend Ed Bacon, a nationally recognized faith leader, made history as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show when he said, “Being gay is a gift from God.” His tradition also teaches him that the arc of the moral universe bends toward love and acceptance, writing, “Together, we will transform the brokenness of this world into a masterpiece of justice.” 

These are only three of the many faith leaders who have spoken up for LGBTQ Americans. We’ve collected dozens of stories and profiles on our Faces of Freedom site. Click here to see people of faith from all across the U.S. standing up against discrimination 

Additionally, we’re always looking for more faith voices to show their support for the LGBTQ community and comprehensive nondiscrimination protections. Do you have a story or a faith journey you’d like to share with us? Visit our Faith Story Share page to get in touch — we’d love to speak with you!  

Our fight to protect all LGBTQ Americans from discrimination is far from over. Although we’ve seen victories, until a federal bill that provides comprehensive protections in housing, employment and public spaces is passed by Congress and signed into law — or all 50 states pass such protections — we’ve still got further to go. However, we take comfort in knowing that a chorus of voices, including people of faith, are standing with us in this fight — and we’re keeping the faith that someday soon, nationwide LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections will become reality.

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