Opinion: LGBTQ rights and religion: we don’t need an activist campaign
As thorny as the debate to support religious freedom while ensuring protections against discrimination for LGBTQ Americans may be, the best results will not be won in a zero-sum game. This is what conservative strategist Frank Schubert is missing in a recent public discourse article criticizing the law on fairness for all.
The legislation, introduced by Republican Utah Rep. Chris Stewart, aims to protect LGBTQ civil rights in employment, housing, public housing and federal programs while providing targeted exemptions for employment. and religious education, among other areas.
In an essay by the Washington Post, Jonathan Rauch, researcher at the Brookings Institution called it a “political breakthrough”, tick all the boxes for President Joe Biden if he chooses to endorse it: show he’s serious about non-discrimination, prove he’s not deaf to the religious community and make the lives of millions of Americans of all stripes and tendencies better.
According to Schubert, however, there shouldn’t be any balancing. While highlighting the danger the Equality Act poses to faith-based institutions – it largely advances protections for LGBTQ Americans without addressing any religious concerns – Schubert takes an oppositional stance when it comes to elaborating. solutions.
Fairness for all concedes too much, he argues, forcing religious conservatives to fully defend their faith against those who want to destroy it. It means “winning” – at the polls and in all legislative channels.
The No.1 priority should be to ensure that those who defend the conservative religious viewpoint become the majority in Congress, he says. Then the movement needs a calculated effort to “defend our views and offend ourselves for claiming our rights”, among other tactics.
After communicating with a lawyer who works in this area, I will highlight two serious flaws that he sees with this approach.
First, Schubert assumes that a large-scale Conservative swing is imminent and that he would be influential enough not only to win legislatively, but to sustain those victories over time. Yet in today’s culture, the chances of overturning court decisions like Obergefell v. Hodges – legalizing same-sex marriage – are near zero, let alone sustaining this long-term reversal.
Schubert suggests that, since the author of Obergefell has left the Supreme Court and three other Tory justices have joined, it is only a matter of time before the court changes direction. But it was Trump-appointed Judge Neil Gorsuch who drafted last year’s opinion strengthening employment rights for LGBTQ workers. It seems that the appetite is not there.
In contrast, those behind fairness for all understand the legal realities of today and choose to work within them to find common ground. Public opinion polls show two-thirds of Americans support legal same sex marriage and a full 90% believe that LGBTQ employees deserve protections against discrimination in their work. Reversing these majorities will not happen. Harnessing them to foster understanding on both sides and create reasonable protections for all holds much more promise.
But what about LGBTQ activists who will give in to nothing less than their full policy mix? Schubert is correct that they are unlikely to settle down, but it also exposes the second flaw in his argument: the target population for a legislative solution is not a handful of activists, but a large swath of Americans. means that support a reasonable compromise. take.
Fairness for All compromises where the equality law doesn’t, making it acceptable to most religious observers and LGBTQ people – and the common intersection of the two – who just want to live their life. life without harassment. It may not be the perfect bill, but it takes the issue further than Congress has succeeded and would give everyone a legal framework to navigate times when contrasting worldviews collide.
This is far better than our current tact of endless litigation and animosity, the presence of which is largely responsible for our current situation.
For decades, religious policy has responded to sexual revolution movements – particularly the adoption of LGBTQ rights – in disagreeable ways, letting fear overshadow legitimate arguments over First Amendment freedoms.
The dilemma of such evangelical populism, writes theologian Matthew Lee Anderson, is that “cautious arguments do not move the votes, but the extremist rhetoric needed to win tends towards disrespect and also generates backlash.”
Many activists have chosen the latter. Bad policies and voting initiatives across the country – such as, as Anderson points out, California’s failed 1978 proposal to fire LGBT teachers – have spurred and encouraged the other side. The effects of extremism have left a confidence void where there should be good faith conversations and problem solving.
The unilateral equality law is the natural result of this environment. Equity for all is a serious effort to chart the course.
In an earlier Public Address Message by Jack N. Gerard, Seventy General authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Gerard urgently writes that the time has come to engage constructively in the pursuit of equity for all. To wait and fight for political purity will be a disaster for religion.
“Happy are the peacemakers,” reminds Brother Gerard. The country is fed up with militant campaigns on social issues and their Pyrrhic victories. The best option is not to alienate those who might be tomorrow’s allies today and find common ground that is strong enough for all to stand up.