If you care about LGBTQ rights, then you should be concerned about Brett Kavanaugh as the U.S. Supreme Court pick. His record shows that he believes religious beliefs can be used to justify discrimination.
In the next few years, the Supreme Court will likely be asked to decide whether businesses and taxpayer-funded nonprofit organizations should receive religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws that require them to serve everybody equally, even if the exemptions would harm other people. Even after the court’s troubling Masterpiece Cakeshop decision earlier this summer, several similar cases are percolating through the courts and eventually could end up back at the Supreme Court.
With Kavanaugh on the bench, the court could create a license to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. I recently wrote about how bad Supreme Court decisions such as the one in Masterpiece Cakeshop harm LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities.
The high court could also hear cases involving businesses seeking religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws in order to fire or refuse to hire LGBTQ employees. In fact, right now, Religious Right group Alliance Defending Freedom is challenging a federal appeals court decision that says a Michigan funeral home can’t use religious beliefs as an excuse to fire Aimee Stephens, a transgender employee. Americans United filed a brief in support of Stephens, telling the court that religion is no excuse to discriminate against transgender people in the workplace.
We know Kavanaugh is likely to grant religious exemptions to businesses and nonprofit organizations even where the exemption could cause real harm to other people. In his dissenting opinion in Priests for Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kavanaugh argued that employers can cite religious beliefs to obstruct their employees’ access to contraception. Kavanaugh’s dissent suggests that he would permit the government to grant religious exemptions in future Supreme Court cases even if they result in the denial of health care or discrimination against women, LGBTQ people or religious minorities.
We also know that Kavanaugh served in the George W. Bush White House, which pushed the Faith-Based Initiative. The Faith-Based Initiative rewrote the rules governing how government can work with religious organizations, eviscerating traditional church-state safeguards and allowing taxpayer-funded religious organizations to discriminate in hiring. The rules, in part, were intended to overturn important state and local laws that prohibit employment discrimination, especially those that bar discrimination against LGBTQ people. Was Kavanaugh involved in that program? We don’t know because Senate Republicans refuse to make all of his records available to the American people.
In a series of videos highlighting what’s at stake if Kavanaugh gets confirmed onto the high court, AU interns Emily Midyette and Amy Fallaw, who are both members of the LGBTQ community, spoke about how we must stop Kavanaugh if we want to protect the future of LGBTQ rights.
“I didn’t come out to my friends and family until seven years after I found my personal sexual identity because I feared for my safety,” said Midyette, who identifies as queer. “At my public high school, queer students were forced to read the Bible and slurs were heard in the hallway every day. Now I fear that when I need a wedding cake, I won’t be served because businesses have personal religious objections, so if you care about LGBTQ rights, you should care about the Supreme Court upholding church-state separation.”
“My right to marriage, which is only three years old, and my right to adopt, are being picked away at by legislation and legal cases fueled by those who wish to use religion as a way to discriminate against the queer community,” said Fallaw, who identifies as gay. “These legal cases will be seen by the Supreme Court, and Trump’s nominee could be the one to decide whether or not I’m equal.”
If you care about LGBTQ rights, then now is the time to act! Help us stop Kavanaugh by urging your senators to reject his confirmation. Religious freedom and church-state separation are on the line.
And if you’re free at 1 p.m. EDT today, hop onto Twitter and follow us @AmericansUnited as we join our allies in a tweetstorm about how LGBTQ rights are at stake with Kavanaugh’s nomination.