Interfaith Alliance Celebrates Marriage Equality in Hawaii and Illinois
WASHINGTON – Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement celebrating the growing trend of same-gender marriage legalization:
"It is thrilling to watch the wave of states enacting marriage equality laws continue to move across the nation, with Hawaii and Illinois being the latest states to do so. Hawaii and Illinois join fourteen other states and the District of Columbia to grant marriage equality to all couples and to recognize that our civil laws on marriage cannot continue to be based on one theological perspective of who can or should be allowed to marry."
"Though I am pleased legislators take protecting religious freedom seriously, the implicit message that continues to be sent by religious exemptions in such legislation is that the First Amendment does not already provide adequate protections for religious freedom – I believe that it does. Ensuring the civil rights of the LGBT community and respecting religious freedom for all persons are not mutually exclusive. It is a victory for equality and for religious liberty when our leaders act to correct public policies that are supported only by some groups’ religious convictions."
Interfaith Alliance Celebrates Final Senate Passage of ENDA
WASHINGTON – Following the historic passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act by the United States Senate for the first time since the bill was introduced in 1994, Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement:
“My how far we have come! Thanks to the monumental work of a bipartisan group of Senators, the persistence of countless advocacy organizations and advocacy of thousands of Americans, our nation today took an historic step forward in our journey towards equality for all people. I am thankful that the Senate has now passed legislation that will prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and I implore Speaker Boehner and the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives to allow ENDA the up or down vote it deserves.
“I am relieved that though many of ENDA’s detractors—and even some of its supporters—continue to raise religious liberty concerns efforts to further expand the religious exemption were defeated. Religious liberty should not be used to justify discrimination and the religious exemption in the law passed today is broad enough to ensure the protection of religious freedom.”
Interfaith Alliance Celebrates Key Senate milestone on ENDA
WASHINGTON—Following an historic cloture vote in the United States Senate that all but assures passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), the first time in that chamber since the bill was introduced in 1994, Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement:
"Today’s cloture vote is an historic step forward in our nation’s journey toward equality for all people. While the path to eventual passage by both houses remains long and uncertain, it is significant that 61 members of the United States Senate, both Republicans and Democrats, have come together to allow legislation to move forward that will prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace."
"As debate continues this week, I am sadly confident that many of ENDA’s opponents will wrongly claim that it is a threat to religious liberty. They will try to convince you that ‘religious freedom’ means that they have the right to discriminate against LGBT people in the workplace and deny them the same right to work afforded to others—that is neither fair nor right. I find no place in the First Amendment that justifies such discrimination. Let me be perfectly clear: ENDA is not a threat to religious liberty and religion should never be used to discriminate."
"Even if ENDA never receives a vote in the House of Representatives this Congress, passing the Senate for the first time—with unprecedented bipartisan support, no less—is a monumental step forward."
Over 120 Rights, Faith, and Community Groups Ask Justice Department to Investigate NYPD for Muslim Surveillance
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 24, 2013
NEW YORK – A coalition of 125 religious, racial justice, civil rights, and community-based organizations sent a letter to the Justice Department today urging it to open a civil rights investigation into the New York City Police Department for its program of spying on Muslims without suspicion of wrongdoing.
Groups representing diverse faith traditions and beliefs who signed the letter include Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim organizations, such as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), National Council of Jewish Women, the Hindu American Foundation, the Sikh Coalition, and national, regional, and New York-based Muslim groups. The civil rights and community-based groups include the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), and the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC).
"Putting a class of Americans under surveillance based on their religion is a clear violation of our Constitution’s guarantees of equality and religious freedom," said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project. "The NYPD’s surveillance program has stigmatized Muslims as suspect and had deeply negative effects on their free speech, association, and religious practice."
As documented extensively by the NYPD's own records, the department has built a program dedicated to suspicionless blanket surveillance of Muslims in the greater New York City area. Officers and informants have routinely monitored restaurants, bookstores, and mosques, and created records of innocent conversations. An NYPD official admitted that the mapping activities have not generated a single lead or resulted in even one terrorism investigation.
"The NYPD’s unconstitutional mapping and surveillance of American Muslims is religious, racial, and ethnic discrimination at its worst," said Hilary O. Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington Bureau and senior vice president for policy and advocacy. "It is beyond offensive and wrong for the NYPD or any law enforcement agency to stereotypically single out American Muslims as being more prone to violence based solely on their religious membership or affiliation. Just as the Civil Rights Division has investigated and sanctioned police departments for biased profiling based on race and ethnicity, it should investigate the NYPD for profiling based on religion."
The department has also sent paid infiltrators into mosques, student associations, and beyond to take photos, write down license plate numbers, and keep notes on people because they are Muslim.
"One of the foundations of this nation is freedom of religion for everyone, yet this fundamental freedom is threatened if even one group’s ability to freely practice its faith is attacked." said Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance and pastor for preaching and worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, Louisiana. "In America, law enforcement should never turn anyone's First Amendment-protected religious beliefs into cause for suspicion, and yet evidence shows that's exactly what the NYPD is doing to Muslim New Yorkers. The fact that people of faith might have to fear going to their houses of worship or freely practicing their religion is about as un-American as un-American gets."
A copy of the letter can be found at:
On the Passing of Pam Baldwin, Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance of Idaho
Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy released the following statement on the passing of longtime friend and colleague Pam Baldwin, the Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance of Idaho:
"On behalf of the board of directors and staff of Interfaith Alliance in Washington, we mourn the passing of our friend and colleague Pam Baldwin. As the Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance of Idaho, Pam has been a long-time partner in our work protecting faith and freedom. Her hard work has contributed to protecting the rights of Idahoans across the state. Her many accomplishments included the development of workshops to combat hate crimes, bringing together people of many faiths to take on homelessness, and standing by the Muslim community after 9/11. She was a mentor to many on issues of fairness and justice. Our thoughts and prayers are with Pam’s husband Bob, her children and the rest of her family and friends."