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100 Faith Leaders To Obama: Religious Liberty Shouldn’t Be Used To Discriminate Against LGBT People


100 Faith Leaders To Obama: Religious Liberty Shouldn’t Be Used To Discriminate Against LGBT People

A group of more than 100 religious clergy, theologians, and faith leaders sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday urging him not to include religious exemptions in a forthcoming executive order prohibiting federal contractors from using hiring polices that discriminate against LGBT people.

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Soon after President Obama announced in June his intention to issue an executive order protecting the rights of LGBT Americans who work for federal contractors, some religious organizations began pressuring the administration to include an exemption for faith groups with government contracts. They argued that because some faith traditions have yet to fully embrace LGBT equality, they should be able to opt out of the executive order while still using federal funds. But the 100 religious signers of Tuesday’s letter rebuked this position, insisting that the government is called to a higher standard of inclusiveness — especially when taxpayer money is involved.

“As faith and civic leaders dedicated to affirming the sacred dignity and equal worth of every person, we are grateful for your upcoming executive order ending discrimination against LGBT people in hiring by federal contractors,” the letter read. “We urge you not to include a religious exemption in the executive order. In keeping with the principle that our government must adhere to the highest standards of ethics and fairness in its own operations, we believe that public dollars should not be used to sanction discrimination.”

“Furthermore, if selective exemptions to the executive order were permitted, the people who would suffer most would be the people who always suffer most when discrimination is allowed: the individuals and communities that are already marginalized.”

The letter’s signers included several prominent Christian voices and clergy such as the Very Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of the Washington National Cathedral, Bishop Melvin Talbert of the United Methodist Church, and Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Organizers of the letter also noted that among the signers were four former members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and five members of a presidential taskforce to reform the office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

“It is not right for any person or any corporation to use their religious beliefs, no matter how sincerely held, to trample the rights and beliefs of others,” Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and a signer of the letter, said in a press release. “Nothing could be more contrary to the Golden Rule, articulated in every world religion.”

The letter also listed the names of many non-Christian leaders who oppose an exemption, such as Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, Peter Morales, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and Imam Daayiee Abdullah of the Light of Reform Mosque in Washington, D.C.

The move is a counterpoint to several other letters penned by faith leaders who favor a religious exemption. On June 25, a group of 140 conservative religious leaders asked the president to include an exemption to assist groups who “simply desire to utilize staffing practices consistent with their deep religious convictions.” The following Tuesday — the day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that closely held for profit corporations could ignore the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate on religious grounds — another group of 14 Christian leaders relatively close to the administration sent a letter to the White House favoring a way for faith groups to ignore the executive order. Then, last Thursday, Buzzfeed reported the existence of a private letter to the president penned by Jim Wallis, head of Christian activist group Sojourners, that was circulated among many prominent clergy and also endorsed an exemption.

Despite these efforts, progressive people of faith remain firmly opposed to a religious exemption. An online petition blasting the proposed exemption posted last week by Faithful America, a progressive Christian online advocacy group, has already garnered more than 30,000 signatures by people of faith. Many prominent religious voices — including several that signed today’s letter — have also publicly opposed any religious exemption that would allow for the discrimination of LGBT people. In addition, a February 2014 poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found that solid majorities of both political parties and every major religious group support workplace nondiscrimination laws for gay and lesbian people.

And while many religious and secular groups endorsed similar religious exemptions written into the Employee Nondiscrimination Act, LGBT groups such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund are now opposing those as well. This mirrors the increasingly pro-LGBT perspective of the general public: a June poll conducted by the First Amendment Center found that a majority of Americans do not see an inherent conflict between recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples and “religious freedom.”

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Update: Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage struck down by Federal Judge


Congratulations Indiana!  From my understanding, marriage licenses are available currently in certain areas of Indiana.  According to an AP report “A federal judge struck down Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday in a ruling that immediately allows gay couples to wed.

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U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled that the state’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause because it treats couples differently based on their sexual orientation.

“Same-sex couples, who would otherwise qualify to marry in Indiana, have the right to marry in Indiana,” he wrote. “These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

The clerk in Marion County, home to Indianapolis, says her office will start issuing marriage licenses immediately.”

Read more at: http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2014/06/federal-judge-strikes-down-indiana-ban-on-same-sex-marriage/

Update: U.S. appeals court rules Utah same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional


Congratulations Utah!  The AP reported “A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled for the first time that states must allow gay couples to marry, finding the Constitution protects same-sex relationships and putting a remarkable legal winning streak across the country one step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

 

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Read more about it here: http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2014/06/u-s-appeals-court-rules-utah-same-sex-marriage-ban-unconstitutional/

 

Man plants LGBT flag at top of Uganda’s highest mountain


Man plants LGBT flag at top of Uganda’s highest mountain

A Californian man has planted an LGBT flag at the top of the highest mountain in Uganda – and challenged President Museveni to remove it.

Businessman Neal Gottlieb carried the flag on a six-day climb up Mount Stanley, whose elevation is over 5,100m, before reaching the summit on April 16, reports Advocate.

He then posted a picture of the flag atop the mountain to Facebook earlier this week (April 23), along with an open letter to the Ugandan President. See the picture below.

 

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In the open letter, Gottlieb wrote: ”Your country’s highest point is no longer its soil, its snow or a summit marker, but rather a gay pride flag waving brilliantly, shining down from above as a sign of protest and hope behalf of the many thousands of Ugandans that you seek to repress and the many more that understand the hideous nature of your repressive legislation.”

He continued: “If you had a son, daughter, niece or nephew that was homosexual, would you want her or him to be imprisoned for life? What if you have friends that are closeted homosexuals? Should they be locked up for the rest of their lives? If you were born gay, would you deserve to be imprisoned?”

To read the full letter, click here.

 

Posted On 26 Apr 2014 15:45 By : Josh Haigh

Pharrell Comes Out For Marriage Equality on “Ellen” (video clip)


Pharrell Comes Out For Marriage Equality

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Pharrell Williams Talks Gay Marriage On ‘Ellen’

Pharrell Williams joined Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show this week to talk the success of his new album, his affinity for women and his support for same-sex marriage.

After giving an impassioned speech about the rights of women and gender inequality in America, Williams took a turn in his train of thought and told DeGeneres that gender equality was not the only form of equality he believes in.

“We’re a species that has a space station floating above the Earth for 20 years,” the hip-hop singer-songwriter told Ellen. “We even have a rover on the surface of Mars. How can we be the same species that is telling people… we have legislators and legislation in places, in certain places that tells women what they can and cannot do with their bodies. How is that possible?”

He went on to note, “When I say equality, I mean equality for everybody. Who are you telling who they can marry and who they can’t? What is this? This is 2014.”

http://huff.to/1ncHMFS

If gay people can take a bullet for freedom then I should have equal freedoms


As a gay man, if I can take a bullet for freedom then I should have equal freedoms.

If I pay taxes, vote and more than I should be entitled the same freedoms.

If I pay taxes, vote and more than I should be entitled the same freedoms.

Protecting the “definition of marriage”


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