State legislatures are considering limitations on the rights of LGBTQ+ people with nearly 400 bills across the country. From attacks on free speech, to the ability of all children to feel safe and included in schools, to the right to seek essential gender-affirming medical care, the attacks are cruel attempts to instill fear and prevent fellow Americans from accessing their rights.
Interfaith Alliance has a network of affiliates working tirelessly to combat this harmful agenda in the states. From the very start, our affiliate network has been a key component of Interfaith Alliance’s work. Some affiliates have long histories and others are just starting out – but they all focus on the issues that directly affect their local communities.
Interfaith Alliance Affiliate Work Fighting Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation
As attacks on LGBTQ+ equality intensify in states, Interfaith Alliance affiliates are mobilizing to combat the spread of discrimination and dangerous rhetoric. The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa and Interfaith Alliance of North Dakota are engaging in strategic advocacy to combat the onslaught of legislation designed to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people and take away their ability to participate equally in public life.
In North Dakota, affiliate leaders coordinated a letter from nearly 70 faith leaders condemning anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. The letter reads, “We believe God calls us to love one another and care for the needy. We believe Jesus preached a Gospel that embraces the marginalized. We believe that LGBTQ+ people are beloved children of God. We call on our legislators to oppose bills that would harm the people of North Dakota, and support legislation that reflects the true values of North Dakotans – values that guide us to care for one another and build a state that welcomes everyone.” North Dakota has seen dozens of bills this term that range from banning books about gender identity in libraries, to banning transgender people from sports, to instituting a criminal penalty on drag queens. Now more than ever, faith voices are essential in calling out the insidious attempts by some lawmakers to relegate LGBTQ+ people to second-class citizens.
After helping organize a rally that drew thousands of participants on March 5th, 2023, The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa mobilized its network to protect transgender youth. The state legislature is debating two bills, one that would prohibit gender-affirming care and one that would prevent people from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity. Both bills are extreme political attacks and particularly impact children. By empowering Iowans to reach out to their representatives and equipping them with the language to voice their concerns, affiliate team members are leading the drive to call out these bills for what they are – blatant bigotry.
Religious Freedom and Equality are Complementary – Not Contradictory – Values
Just as people are free to explore matters of faith and personal conscience, people should also be free to express their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of discrimination or harm. But a small group of people are using Christian nationalism – a cultural framework that conflates American identity with an exclusive form of religious identity – to distort the meaning of religious freedom to include the right to discriminate against those who identify or believe differently than they do. This is a radical departure from the established meaning of the First Amendment – and one that continues to cause harm in the name of faith.
Too often, discrimination and harm against LGBTQ+ people is cloaked in the language of religion, sending a message of exclusion, and leaning into the false narrative that religion and LGBTQ+ identity are at odds with one another. Along with many other civic and faith groups, Interfaith Alliance rejects this false choice. To build safer, more compassionate communities, we call upon people of faith and no faith to support LGBTQ+ people and work for policies that protect against harm and discrimination on the local and national levels.
Learn more about our state and local networks here.