A new Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) report profiles the top Christian Right groups on the frontline of the campaign to enact state "religious freedom" laws, demonstrating that the movement is merely the latest strategy to deny equality to the LGBT community.
In recent years, the LGBT rights movement has witnessed a sea change in American attitudes toward the gay community and, along with it, a series of dramatic policy and legal victories that would have seemed unthinkable just a decade ago. Yet, while the majority of Americans support equal rights for LGBT people, these gains have produced a strong backlash.
The hardline religious right groups that have long relied on the use of demonizing falsehoods to justify discrimination against LGBT people have not simply folded their tents and walked away. Rather, they have begun using their large megaphone to create a dangerous new narrative that portrays Christians who object to homosexuality on biblical grounds as victims of religious persecution.
In response, the Southern Poverty Law Center is releasing a report –– Religious Liberty’ and the Anti-LGBT Right: Hardline Groups Promoting ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Acts’ to Justify Anti-Gay Discrimination –– detailing six anti-LGBT groups working to persuade state legislatures to pass laws that ostensibly allow individuals to deny goods and services to LGBT people on the basis of their religious beliefs.
The danger of these laws goes far beyond the way in which courts may ultimately balance them with statutory and constitutional protections against discrimination. The peril also lies in the atmosphere of bigotry and discrimination that will be created by legitimizing the very idea that LGBT rights threaten religious liberty.