Twin Freedoms | Center for American Progress

Religious liberty—the ability to freely exercise one’s religious beliefs—is a cornerstone of American democracy. It is a right woven throughout the legal fabric of our nation, one that is espoused in state laws, state constitutions, and most importantly in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Unfortunately, however, conservative lawmakers have increasingly turned to misusing religious freedom as a political tool to obstruct policies they oppose. With regard to marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples, for example, conservatives are charging (and misleadingly so) that laws and policies that level the playing field for same-sex couples threaten the free exercise of religion in the United States.

An increasing majority of Americans, including President Barack Obama, believe that we should afford the freedom to marry to all couples. And Americans from all faith backgrounds support the ability to practice one’s religion free from government interference. These twin freedoms—the freedom to worship and the freedom to marry—are both important American values, and they are wholly compatible with one another.

But opponents of marriage equality would like to think otherwise. They disingenuously argue that marriage equality will unduly require clergy to officiate weddings between same-sex couples even if doing so violates their religious beliefs. Opponents similarly claim that marriage equality laws violate the religious freedom of shopkeepers, restaurant owners, and private citizens by compelling them to provide goods and services to same-sex couples, even if they already must do so under existing nondiscrimination public accommodations laws.

We’ve seen much of this show before. Opponents of interracial marriage employed similar arguments and tactics as a way to gin up opposition to laws and court rulings that advanced equal marriage for couples of different races. Of course, following these laws and rulings, no religious leader has been forced to officiate a wedding ceremony that violated his or her faith, including ceremonies for interracial couples. The only thing that changed with the legalization of interracial marriage is that governments were no longer able to deny these couples a marriage license or the benefits that come with marriage. The state of religious liberty remained and continues to remain unchanged with respect to interracial marriage. The same rings true in those states that have legalized marriage equality for same-sex couples.

via Twin Freedoms | Center for American Progress.

Related Images:

Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy Assures Mike Huckabee That Nothing Has Changed | Advocate.com

Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy spoke with Mike Huckabee on Friday to assure him that nothing has changed about his restaurant chain’s antigay ways.

Huckabee is the organizer of the “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” that supposedly set a sales record for the fast-food company. The Fox News host and failed presidential candidate rallied thousands to defend a series of comments Cathy made, in which he called same-sex marriage “twisted” and seemed to cop to his company foundation’s history of more than $5 million in donations to antigay groups by declaring cavalierly “guilty as charged.”

Then a Chicago alderman named Proco “Joe” Moreno claimed he was finally going to relent and allow Chick-fil-A to expand to his ward because company officials had agreed to end donations to antigay groups and drafted an anti-discrimination statement that was sent to local operators. That statement, titled “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are,” was posted on the company’s website this week and set off backlash from those hordes of “Appreciation Day” believers. Now Cathy wants to clarify that, no, the company doesn’t have any such agreement.

via Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy Assures Mike Huckabee That Nothing Has Changed | Advocate.com.

Related Images:

Chick-fil-A Ceases Anti-gay Donations, Clarifies Stance on Gay Customers & Employees

September 18, 2012 – Chicago, Illinois – The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), Illinois’ leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights advocacy organization, has learned that Alderman Moreno has finalized his negotiations with Chick-Fil-A. Alderman Moreno has confirmed that Chick-fil-A will no longer give money to anti-gay organizations and that they have clarified in an internal document that the company will treat every person equally, regardless of sexual orientation. The Civil Rights Agenda worked closely with the Alderman in an advisory role as he negotiated these concessions with the executives at Chick-fil-A. Additionally, members of TCRA spoke directly with executives at Chick-fil-A during negotiations to aid in educating their decision makers about anti-discrimination policies and issues affecting the LGBT community.

In a letter addressed to Alderman Moreno and signed by Chick-fil-A’s Senior Director of Real Estate, it states, “The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.” Winshape, a non-profit funded by Chick-fil-a, has donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBT groups, including some classified as hate groups. In meetings the company executives clarified that they will no longer give to anti-gay organizations.

“We are very pleased with this outcome and thank Alderman Moreno for his work on this issue,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda. “I think the most substantive part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights. It has taken months of discussion, both with our organization and with the Alderman, for Chick-fil-A to come forward with these concessions and we feel this is a strong step forward for Chick-fil-A and the LGBT community, although it is only a step.”

Additionally, they have sent an internal memo to franchisees and stakeholders that states that as a company, they will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender” and that their “intent is not to engage in political or social debates.” This statement was placed into an official company document called “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are.”

“Although we are encouraged by their internal statement, we would still like for the company to adopt an anti-discrimination policy at the corporate level,” said Rick Garcia, policy advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda. “It is one thing for a company to say they respect everyone they serve and employ, it is quite another for them to put that into their policies and demand that all employees adhere to that behavior. As we have heard from gay employees that work for Chick-fil-A, there is a culture of discrimination within the company and we would like to ensure that employees can speak out and call attention to those practices without fear of reprisal. It takes time to change the culture of any institution and steps like a corporate policy ensure that progress is made.”

via The Civil Rights Agenda.

Related Images:

Washington churches told not to collect funds for gay marriage fight – The Washington Post

SPOKANE, Wash. — Churches in Washington state are being reminded that collecting money for a political cause is not OK — including a high-stakes ballot battle over gay marriage.

The state’s Public Disclosure Commission recently learned that Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima sent a letter to pastors in 41 parishes asking them to take up a special collection for Preserve Marriage Washington, the group that is trying to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage law.

via Washington churches told not to collect funds for gay marriage fight – The Washington Post.

Related Images:

Same-sex marriage: Scotland urged to resist Catholic church campaign | Society | guardian.co.uk

The Scottish government has been urged to stand firm over its plans to legalise same-sex marriage and not be derailed by an “anti-gay agenda” as the Catholic church in Scotland launched a campaign to maintain “the universally accepted definition of marriage” as a union between a man and a woman.

In a letter read out in all 500 of the church’s parishes, Scotland’s Catholic bishops expressed their “deep disappointment” that Alex Salmond’s administration has vowed to pass legislation that could see the first gay marriage ceremonies by 2015. The letter called on worshippers to pray for their political leaders so that they may preserve the traditional nature of marriage “for the good of Scotland and of our society”.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the country’s Catholic church who last weekend broke off direct talks with the Scottish government on gay marriage, said: “The church’s teaching on marriage is unequivocal, it is uniquely, the union of a man and a woman and it is wrong that governments, politicians or parliaments should seek to alter or destroy that reality.”

He added: “While we pray that our elected leaders will sustain rather than subvert marriage, we promise to continue to do everything we can to convince them that redefining marriage would be wrong for society.”

Gay rights activists condemned the move. “It is increasingly clear that the church has an anti-gay agenda that it wants to impose on the rest of society,” said Tom French, policy co-ordinator of the Equality Network. “We urge the Scottish government to stand firm on plans to introduce equal marriage and not give in to demands that would discriminate against LGBT people.”

via Same-sex marriage: Scotland urged to resist Catholic church campaign | Society | guardian.co.uk.

Related Images:

Chick-Fil-A Has ‘Record-Setting Day’ While Embroiled In Anti-Gay Controversy

Mike Huckabee is probably pretty happy right now.

Chick-fil-A, the chicken restaurant under fire for its president’s public comments against same-sex marriage, announced it set new sales records on Wednesday, or as Huckabee renamed it, “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”

“While we don’t release exact sales numbers, we can confirm reports that it was a record-setting day,” said Chick-fil-A’s executive vice president of marketing, Steve Robinson, in a statement.

Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, had urged people across the country to “affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse” by showing up at the chicken chain on August 1.

Many appear to have taken Huckabee’s call to heart, flocking to the chain’s roughly 1,600 locations in support of its president’s controversial anti-gay position.

via Chick-Fil-A Has ‘Record-Setting Day’ While Embroiled In Anti-Gay Controversy.

Related Images:

Pat Robertson: Democrats’ Support For Gay Marriage Is Political ‘Death Wish’

Right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson thinks Democrats are committing political suicide with their decision to stand up for the civil rights of the LGBT community.

Speaking on his television program on Tuesday, Robertson said the Democratic Party has a “death wish” in backing marriage equality as part of its official platform, which will be unveiled at this summer’s Democratic National Convention.

“For the Democrats to go out on that limb, it just seems like to me that they are further alienating themselves from the mainstream of America,” Robertson said. “If that’s what they want to do, fine, but it will mean the death knell of their party, it seems like to me, and of course that’s what they’re doing but maybe they have a death wish.”

Recent polling contradicts Robertson’s assertion. A survey released on Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that 48 percent of the overall public supports same-sex marriage, while only 44 percent oppose it. Among Democrats, 65 percent support the right of gay couples to marry.

via Pat Robertson: Democrats’ Support For Gay Marriage Is Political ‘Death Wish’.

Related Images:

Florida Lt Governor Apologies for Lesbian Comment | Advocate.com

“I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest apologies to anyone I may have offended with my recent comment,” she wrote to Smith, delivering a written apology following their phone conversation. “It is wrong and inexcusable to make a comment that hurts people, and that was not my intention. As a Christian, my faith guides me to love and respect all people.”

via Florida Lt Governor Apologies for Lesbian Comment | Advocate.com.

Related Images:

Jim Henson Company And Chick-Fil-A: ‘Muppets’ Makers Sever Ties With Anti-Gay Fast Food Chain

Last Friday, the company behind beloved shows such as “Fraggle Rock,” “Labyrinth,” and “The Muppets,” severed ties with Chick-Fil-A due to the fast food chain’s CEO’s opposition to same sex marriage.

According to “Muppets” fan site ToughPigs.com, The Jim Henson Company had partnered with Chick-Fil-A to feature Jim Henson’s Creature Shop toys — “essentially a plastic tube with cut-out features for customizing your own puppet” — in their kid’s meals from mid-July until August 18th.

However, on Friday, the Jim Henson Company posted the following statement to their Facebook page:

The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD. (http://www.glaad.org/)

via Jim Henson Company And Chick-Fil-A: ‘Muppets’ Makers Sever Ties With Anti-Gay Fast Food Chain.

Related Images: