Religious exemption laws permit people, churches, non-profit organizations, and sometimes corporations to seek exemptions from state laws that burden their religious beliefs. The resources on this page look at the landscape of state religious exemption laws and how they impact the lives of LGBT people.
December 2017 - Religious exemptions laws jeopardize the security and safety of LGBT older adults, who rely on many religiously affiliated organizations for services like congregate meals, skilled nursing, and health care.
November 2017 - This video ad illustrates how Masterpiece could lead to a wider array of people—including LGBT people and families of color—facing discrimination, while helping other viewers imagine how they would feel if they faced similar discrimination. The ad was produced by MAP as part of the Open to All campaign. Learn more at www.OpentoAll.com.
November 2017 - This video ad depicts ways in which a decision in favor of the bakery in this case could be used by those who seek to discriminate against LGBT people and others. The ad was produced by MAP as part of the Open to All campaign. Learn more at www.OpentoAll.com.
November 2017 - In December 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the landmark case Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This guide offers background, frequently asked questions and topline messages to facilitate conversations about the case.
November 2017 - This issue brief provides an analysis of the legal questions in the case, and the broad legal implications the case will have on people color, women, minority faiths, people with disabilities and others.
November 2017 - MAP Executive Director Ineke Mushovic discusses the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, and how a loss at the Supreme Court would not only open the door to much wider ranging forms of discrimination, but also to a wider array of people who could face such discrimination. This video was produced by MAP as part of the Open to All campaign. Learn more at www.OpentoAll.com.
November 2017 - This infographic was designed as part of the Open to All campaign and shows how a loss in Masterpiece would open the door to much wider ranging forms of discrimination and a wider array of people facing discrimination. It could lead to the erosion of federal and state nondiscrimination protections across the country. Learn more at www.OpentoAll.com
October 2017 - This report examines the alarming and widespread push to pass a variety of religious exemptions laws that would give businesses, government agencies and individuals a right to discriminate on religious or moral grounds. Legislation, executive orders, court cases, and agency guidance all push religious exemptions far beyond what the U.S. Constitution guarantees is the right to exercise religion freely.
September 2017 - This report details how religious exemptions for child welfare providers hurt children and vulnerable families. Agencies that provide services to children and parents should focus on providing loving, stable homes for children and helping families in need. Instead, these laws encourage and enable adoption agencies and their workers to reject qualified parents who don’t share the agency’s or worker’s religious beliefs.
April 2017 - Texas House Bill 3859 would allow child-placement agencies to to impose their beliefs on and discriminate against children and families while providing taxpayer-funded services. Agencies would be allowed to make placement decisions based on their religious beliefs, hurting the more than 28,000 children in the care of the state, including nearly 7,000 children awaiting adoption.
March 2017 - Alabama House Bill 24 and Senate Bill 145 would allow child-placement agencies to make placement decisions based on their own religious beliefs, hurting the more than 4,745 children in the care of the state of Alabama, including more than 1,020 children who are awaiting adoption. HB24/SB145 would allow agencies to impose their beliefs on and discriminate against children and families while providing taxpayer-funded services.
March 2017 - Several states have proposed legislation to allow businesses to discriminate against customers who don’t conform to the specific religious beliefs that marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman, and that sex should be restricted to such marriages. Learn how to have effective conversations and broaden people's understanding of these laws and how they encourage discrimination against same-sex couples, unmarried couples and individuals, single parents, and others.
March 2017 - To explain why the First Amendment Defense Act is so devastating and should not be re-introduced, this brief provides an analysis of the 2015 version of FADA and what it could mean for 10 million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, along with millions of others. The brief underscores how vigilant we must be to ensure that a license to discriminate is not written into our laws.
THIS REPORT HAS BEEN UPDATED
March 2017 - - Read about religious exemption legislation that would allow child placement and adoption agencies to discriminate against loving families while providing government services paid for with taxpayer money. These laws enable adoption agencies and their workers to reject parents who don’t share the agency’s or worker’s religious beliefs, legally prioritizing those beliefs over the best interests of children.
March 2017 - Some states have introduced legislation to create broad religious exemptions allowing discrimination in taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care services. Such laws would allow adoption agencies and child services workers to make decisions for children in their care based on their religious beliefs, rather than the best interests of the child. Learn how to talk about these harmful laws which deprive children of loving homes.
March 2017 - Senate Bill 149 allows child-placement agencies to make placement and child treatment decisions based on their own religious beliefs, as opposed to following standards that advance the best interests of children. SB 149 would allow child-placement agencies to impose their beliefs on others and to discriminate against children and families, all while providing services paid for with taxpayer money.
August 2016 - State religious exemption laws permit people, churches, non-profit organizations, and sometimes corporations to seek exemptions from state laws that burden their religious beliefs. These laws have recently been used as a defense when businesses discriminate against or refuse service to LGBT customers and same-sex couples.
May 2016 - Read about approaches for effective conversations about harmful religious exemptions that threaten not only laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination, but also access to health care (including women's reproductive health), public safety, and more.
September 2015 - LGBT Policy Spotlight: State and Federal Religious Exemptions and the LGBT Community examines how state and federal religious exemption laws are being used to harm a broad range of people, interfere with law enforcement, and undermine the rule of law.