Religious Liberty Protection Act Endangers GLBT Rights

The Religious Liberty Protection Act approved July 15 by the U.S. House of Representatives would make it easier to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation, marital or family status and disability status, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force warned today.

NGLTF Executive Director Kerry Lobel warned that under the legislation passed by the House today, owners of large apartment buildings would be able to cite their religious exercise protections to deny the civil rights of prospective tenants. She called on the Senate to add explicit language to the legislation that makes it clear RLPA does not create a defense to the enforcement of state and local civil rights laws.

"Protecting religious liberty is a worthy cause, but not at the expense of any person's other civil rights," Lobel said. "We strongly believe both of these principles are important and neither should be sacrificed for the sake of the other. We don't have to play one critical civil right against another in order for both to prevail."

A broad coalition of groups has come together to oppose RLPA because of the lack of exemption for civil rights protections. These groups include AIDS Action, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Rights Task Force, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Human Rights Campaign, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, National Latino/a Lesbian and Gay Organization, National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum, National Catholic AIDS Network and National Organization for Women.

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