Credo Action

Tell Congress: Protect LGBTQ people from discrimination – pass the Do No Harm Act.

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The petition to Congress reads:

“Pass the Do No Harm Act to ensure that no one can use the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to justify discrimination.”

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    Tell Congress: Protect LGBTQ people from discrimination – pass the Do No Harm Act.

    When right-wing, anti-LGBTQ extremists want to discriminate against LGBTQ people across the country, they often use religion as an excuse. Unfortunately, there is a federal law that helps protect their bigotry: The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The federal RFRA was designed to protect the rights of religious minorities. Today, it is mainly used to justify discrimination, and state legislators and governors have used it to justify enacting similar legislation on a state level across the country.

    We have a chance to fix that.

    Progressive champion Rep. Joe Kennedy III, along with Rep. Bobby Scott and 50 other co-sponsors, has introduced the Do No Harm Act – long-overdue legislation to reaffirm that one person’s religious freedom can never be used to deny another one’s civil rights.1

    Tell Congress: Stand with Rep. Joe Kennedy III. Pass the Do No Harm Act.

    RFRAs are helping right-wing bigots and lawmakers across the country refuse medical treatment to women and LGBTQ people, deny women reproductive health care, justify discrimination in hiring, override nondiscrimination laws, and challenge the legitimacy of state laws against child abuse and domestic violence.2

    In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court made an extreme interpretation of RFRAs in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case. It ruled that for-profit businesses could exclude birth control from their employees’ health-care plans even though the Affordable Care Act mandated a birth control benefit.3 In other words, the Supreme Court allowed Hobby Lobby to withhold basic and vital health care services from their employees all across the country based on the owner’s religious beliefs.

    The Do No Harm Act would explicitly prevent the federal RFRA from being used by agencies and organizations that receive government funding to justify or defend discrimination in cases of wages and collective bargaining, access to health care, public accommodations, child labor and abuse, or social services.4

    This legislation would create a clear distinction between religious freedom and a license to discriminate. Under the Do No Harm Act, government clerks would be prohibited from refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples; hospitals that receive government funding would be mandated to provide equal access to appropriate health care to women and transgender people; foster and adoption agencies wouldn’t be able to refuse to work with same-sex couples; and businesses wouldn’t be able to deny reproductive health care to their employees.

    Our lawmakers never meant for the federal RFRA to become a tool hateful right-wing bigots abuse to justify discrimination. The Do No Harm Act is a chance to fix it.

    Tell Congress: Stand with Rep. Joe Kennedy III. Pass the Do No Harm Act.

    Passing the Do No Harm Act will be an uphill battle, especially with our current bigoted, Republican-held Congress. But now is the moment to build momentum and make sure that all politicians know that the vast majority of Americans support equal protection under the law for LGBTQ people. Standing for equal rights is standing on the right side of history. We have to make sure that Congress feels the pressure to stand with us.

    Tell Congress: Pass the Do No Harm Act.

    Thank you for standing up to bigotry.

    References:
    1. ACLU, “ACLU Statement on Reintroduction of Do No Harm Act,” July 13, 2017.
    2. IaN Millhiser,“If You Want To Know The Problem With Indiana’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Law, Just Ask George W. Bush,” Think Progress, March 30, 2015.
    3. Jennifer C. Pizer, “Do No Harm Act Re-Introduced in Congress,” Lambda Legal, July 13, 2017.
    4. Rep. Bobby Scott, “Scott, Kennedy Introduce Amendment to Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” May 18, 2016.

    Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images