When the Hobby Lobby decision was announced in 2014, PFLAG National issued the following statement: a clear, fair, and firm message on the organization’s position on freedom of religion.
PFLAG has a long, proud history of engaging in difficult conversations, often related to issues of faith. We understand and see everyday how freedom of religion is being conflated with the freedom to discriminate and the growing crescendo that this discrimination be enshrined in law. PFLAG’s richness of diversity compels us to operate from a lens of fairness when looking at religious exemptions, and fairness dictates that any religious exemption in judicial ruling, executive action, or legislation cannot be so broad as to compromise an individual’s dignity.
Yet from decades on the front lines of LGBTQ equality advocacy, we also know that if we want laws written, supported, and passed, we must commit to staying engaged, no matter how difficult the conversations get. PFLAG will always use the same test, whether it be for ENDA, an Executive Order, some other piece of legislation, or a court ruling: Will people who are LGBTQ be treated differently than protected classes of people? If the final version or ruling does not pass that test, then we will not support it and will instead actively mobilize all PFLAGers and people everywhere committed to fairness and equality to oppose.
PFLAG National will continue to support The Equality Act but insist on a fair and equal religious exemption in the bill. People who are LGBTQ — whether through The Equality Act or via an Executive Order — have a desperate need for workplace protections, and should have the same workplace rights and responsibilities as anyone else. In fact, the majority of Americans already agree that people in the workplace should be judged on the merits of their work, not based on who they are; that is fair.
In PFLAG’s view, the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling was wrong, any Executive Order aimed at protecting workers but offering loopholes to discriminate is wrong, and the breadth of the religious exemption in ENDA as it is currently drafted is wrong. PFLAG never closes the door on conversation, but we will close the door on discrimination, for we cannot change hearts and minds—which sometimes means reconciling different faith beliefs—if the foundation on which we do so ís discriminatory.