June 18, 2020 Rapid Response

For Heaven's Sake: The Intersection of Anti-Discrimination Legislation and Autonomy of Religious Institutions

One of the most contentious legal and cultural disputes of the day is the seeming conflict between protecting the free exercise of religion and of free speech, on the one hand, and the strong state interest in enforcing prohibitions against discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, on the other.

That conundrum plays out most starkly when anti-discrimination laws are applied to religious and religiously affiliated institutions, where the arguments for protecting religious autonomy are the strongest. Congress currently has before it several legislative initiatives at the epicenter of this conflict in the form of the Equality Act, the Do No Harm Act, and the Fairness for All Act.

In this timely program, the panelists present views from diverse perspectives on the merits and demerits of these initiatives and on the larger question of how best to draw the balance between protecting the ability of faith-based institutions to operate in accord with their tenets and safeguarding all Americans from invidious discrimination.

One of the most contentious legal and cultural disputes of the day is the seeming conflict between protecting the free exercise of religion and of free speech, on the one hand, and the strong state interest in enforcing prohibitions against discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, on the other.

That conundrum plays out most starkly when anti-discrimination laws are applied to religious and religiously affiliated institutions, where the arguments for protecting religious autonomy are the strongest. Congress currently has before it several legislative initiatives at the epicenter of this conflict in the form of the Equality Act, the Do No Harm Act, and the Fairness for All concept (not yet introduced as legislation).

In this timely program, the panelists will present views from diverse perspectives on the merits and demerits of these initiatives and on the larger question of how best to draw the balance between protecting the ability of faith-based institutions to operate in accord with their tenets and safeguarding all Americans from invidious discrimination.
One of the most contentious legal and cultural disputes of the day is the seeming conflict between protecting the free exercise of religion and of free speech, on the one hand, and the strong state interest in enforcing prohibitions against discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, on the other.

That conundrum plays out most starkly when anti-discrimination laws are applied to religious and religiously affiliated institutions, where the arguments for protecting religious autonomy are the strongest. Congress currently has before it several legislative initiatives at the epicenter of this conflict in the form of the Equality Act, the Do No Harm Act, and the Fairness for All concept (not yet introduced as legislation).

In this timely program, the panelists will present views from diverse perspectives on the merits and demerits of these initiatives and on the larger question of how best to draw the balance between protecting the ability of faith-based institutions to operate in accord with their tenets and safeguarding all Americans from invidious discrimination.
One of the most contentious legal and cultural disputes of the day is the seeming conflict between protecting the free exercise of religion and of free speech, on the one hand, and the strong state interest in enforcing prohibitions against discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, on the other.

That conundrum plays out most starkly when anti-discrimination laws are applied to religious and religiously affiliated institutions, where the arguments for protecting religious autonomy are the strongest. Congress currently has before it several legislative initiatives at the epicenter of this conflict in the form of the Equality Act, the Do No Harm Act, and the Fairness for All concept (not yet introduced as legislation).

In this timely program, the panelists will present views from diverse perspectives on the merits and demerits of these initiatives and on the larger question of how best to draw the balance between protecting the ability of faith-based institutions to operate in accord with their tenets and safeguarding all Americans from invidious discrimination.

Panelists

  • Stanley Carlson-Thies, Founder and Senior Director, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance
  • Jennifer C. Pizer, Law and Policy Director, Lambda Legal 
  • Melissa Rogers, Senior Fellow in Governance Studies, Brookings Institution
  • Johnathan Smith, Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights and Workforce, Office of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Moderator

  • Richard Foltin, Senior Scholar, Religious Freedom Center, Freedom Forum Institute

Resources

Transcript: For Heaven’s Sake: The Intersection of Anti-Discrimination Legislation and Autonomy of Religious Institutions

In an Era of Religious Refusals, the Do No Harm Act Is an Essential Safeguard
ACLU | February 28, 2019

Testimony by Representative Joseph P. Kennedy, III for the Hearing on "Do No Harm: Examining the Misapplication of the ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act" before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor

Transcript of Oral Testimony by Rachel Laser, President and CEO, Americans United for Separation of Church and State for the Hearing on "Do No Harm: Examining the Misapplication of the ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act" before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor 

The Do No Harm Act Would Undermine RFRA
Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance | July 29, 2019

Equality Act FAQ

Lambda Legal Testimony in Support of the Equality Act

It's Time to Update America's Civil Rights Laws With the Equality Act
Lambda Legal | June 18, 2020

Christian Central Academy v. New York State Division of Human Rights Brief on Behalf of the New York State Division of Human Rights Brief

Cynthia Gifford, Robert Gifford and Liberty Ridge Farm, LLC. v. Melisa McCarthy, Jennifer McCarthy and the New York State Division of Human Rights

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany et al. v. Gregory V. Serio

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