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Religious Exemptions

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.

Policy Brief

License to Discriminate: Texas House Bill 3859

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.

Policy Brief

License to Discriminate: Alabama House Bill 24 & Senate Bill 145

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.

Guide

Talking About Religious Exemptions & Service Discrimination

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.

Policy Brief

Creating a License to Discriminate: First Amendment Defense Act

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.

Policy Brief

License to Discriminate: How Religious Exemption Legislation For Social Services Agencies Harms Children

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.

Guide

Talking About Religious Exemptions & Adoption Discrimination

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.

Policy Brief

License to Discriminate: South Dakota Senate Bill 149

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.

Map

State Religious Exemption Laws

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.

Report

Talking About Religious Exemptions Laws

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.

Report

LGBT Policy Spotlight: State and Federal Religious Exemptions

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.