Sexual orientation and gender identity play a defining role in each of our lives, whether we think about them or not. These essential characteristics inform how we view ourselves, the relationships we build, and the communities we foster.
For many Americans, religious affiliation is similarly integral to our sense of self and how we find meaning in daily life. Each person embodies their faith in a unique way, one that is largely protected under the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. Every American has the right to believe as they see fit with the secure knowledge that no other person, nor the government, can force them to change their beliefs.
But a small group of religious conservatives continue to push a misinterpretation of the First Amendment that would give them the right to force their beliefs on others – expecting those around them to conform to their views. Some argue this includes the right to refuse service to LGBTQ people and others.
Religious freedom does not include a license to discriminate.
Interfaith Alliance was among the first faith-based organizations to shift the perspective on LGBTQ equality from problem to solution, from a scriptural argument to a religious freedom agreement. We recognize that individual faith traditions approach LGBTQ identities differently. The First Amendment protects these communities from governmental interference in their religious doctrines. But we count on our elected representatives and judges to ensure that each of us is treated with dignity and respect within the public sphere.
That’s why we joined the Open to All Campaign and continue fighting to ensure that no one faces discrimination in public life just because of who they are. We are committed to preserving the integrity of religious communities and to the stalwart defense of the First Amendment – both of which are undermined when one group demands the right to supersede the freedoms and civil rights of others on the basis of religion.
Learn more about Interfaith Alliance’s work and how to get involved through our one pager on LGBTQ equality.
The landmark green paper Same-Gender Marriage and Religious Freedom: A Call to Quiet Conversations and Public Debates by former Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, offered a diversity of ideas based on Interfaith Alliance’s unique advocacy for religious freedom and interfaith exchange. This project’s cross-denominational nature is at the core of Interfaith Alliance’s efforts and sparked national conversation and action. It was made possible through the support of the Arcus Foundation and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.
Terminology around sexual orientation and gender identity shifts as language and culture evolve. Using the correct terms can prevent miscommunication and stereotyping while communicating a sense of welcome and understanding. Explore Religious Institute’s Sexuality and Gender Identity Definitions.