'Religious freedom is an ideal we support and it can be ensured without hanging non-discrimination laws out to dry,' said HRC's David Smith.
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign expressed concern today about a bill introduced in the House and Senate today that could expand religious rights of some employees while failing to preserve protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
"Religious freedom is an ideal we support and it can be ensured without hanging non-discrimination laws out to dry," said HRC Vice President of Policy David Smith. "We support the goal of securing religious freedom in the workplace, but not without safeguards that should be written into the bill that also ensure it won't be used as a proxy to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. This bill would leave significant room to disregard state and local non-discrimination laws, as well as employer policies, allowing some employees to create a hostile climate for their GLBT co-workers and clients."
The Workplace Religious Freedom Act would expand the rights of some employees in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in a way that would require employers to engage in efforts to accommodate an employee's religious practices and observances at the expense of other employees' civil rights.
In a letter sent March 15 to members of Congress, the Human Rights Campaign expressed concerns about the ways in which the bill could be used to evade non-discrimination policies.
"The concern here is that employers would have serious difficulty resolving instances where an employee posts a sign reading 'God hates fags' in his office or cubicle where workers proselytize on the 'sins of the homosexual lifestyle' over lunch and on breaks where a social worker proffers a religious objection to being the case manager or counselor for a youth who is gay or transgender or where a truck driver on 24-hour driving shift who gives a religious reason for refusing to drive with an co-driver who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender," wrote HRC's Smith and Christopher Labonte, legislative director. They continued, "WRFA would arguably allow health care professionals to refuse to provide basic health care services to a gay or transgender patient."
"We believe that most religious Americans - including many GLBT people of faith - are fair-minded and this bill is at odds with their values," added Smith. "There is a way to write this legislation so that it's clear that safeguards for non-discrimination are kept in place. We urge members of Congress to address this problem so that the rights of some employees don't infringe on the rights of others."
To make a general inquiry, please visit our contact page. Members of the media can reach our press office at: (202) 572-8968 or email email@example.com.