US: LGBTQ equality pendulum “abruptly” swinging back as religious exemptions gain victories

Patrick Hornbeck is chair and associate professor of theology at Fordham University, where he teaches and writes about the history of Christianity, contemporary U.S. Catholicism, and LGBTQ concerns in religion. He is the author or editor of eight books, including the two-volume collection More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church (Fordham University Press, 2014). He received his graduate degrees from the University of Oxford and graduated as valedictorian from Georgetown University.

As the U.S. Supreme Court continues to mull the arguments of a baker who on religious grounds refused to design a custom cake for a same-sex wedding, two cases elsewhere this week suggested that however the high court rules, religious exemptions will remain a front line in ongoing cultural clashes about sexual diversity.

Those who support equality for gay and lesbian couples should pay particularly close attention to these developments, since they come at a time when polls indicate that acceptance of LGBTQ people has undergone a slight decline. In January, GLAAD reported that after years of movement toward equality, “this year, the acceptance pendulum abruptly stopped and swung in the opposite direction.” Among the contributing factors, GLAAD hypothesized, could be President Donald Trump’s attempted ban on trans service members, the nomination and confirmation of conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, and attempts at the state and local levels to pass laws restricting the rights of LGBTQ citizens.

The first of this week’s cases seems eerily familiar. Read more via Religion Dispatches