US: Ever-growing religious exemption laws

Today, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) released a new report, Tipping the Scales: The Coordinated Attack on LGBT People, Women, Parents, Children, and Health Care, detailing the alarming and widespread push to pass a variety of religious exemptions laws that would give businesses, government agencies and individuals a right to discriminate on religious or moral grounds.

“The sheer volume and variety of these efforts to write religious exemptions into all areas of American life and law is incredibly disturbing,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project (MAP). “Freedom of religion is a core American value, but religious freedom doesn't give anyone the right to discriminate, to harm, or to impose their religion on others. This is a coordinated effort to say that, as long as you have a religious objection, you shouldn't have to follow the law when it comes to hiring and firing employees, discrimination protections for customers and clients, providing health care, administering government services and issuing documentation, serving children and families in child welfare agencies, and the list just goes on.”

On October 6th, the Department of Justice issued sweeping guidance instructing federal agencies to provide significant leeway to staff and government contractors and grantees seeking religious exemptions from federal laws, rules and regulation, if they cite a religious belief as the reason for doing so. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services announced in early October a sweeping religious exemption allowing any employer or insurance company to refuse contraceptive coverage in their health benefits.

Tipping the Scales: The Coordinated Attack on LGBT People, Women, Parents, Children, and Health Care analyzes the mounting legislation and litigation across the country orchestrated to undermine nondiscrimination protections, comprehensive health care, and the regulations administering social and public services by inserting exemptions into the laws based on religious or moral beliefs. Read more via LGBT Map