As confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch get underway, Equality California has sent a letter to members of the United States Senate urging them to oppose his confirmation.
In the letter, Equality California refutes Trump Administration claims that Gorsuch is a moderate in tune with mainstream American views. In fact, Gorsuch’s legal opinions are rooted in originalism, the belief that the Constitution should be interpreted in a manner consistent with those who drafted and ratified it nearly two and a half centuries ago. He is far to the right of the majority of Americans who believes in women’s reproductive freedom, marriage for same-sex couples and the separation of church and state. He sided with employers in two federal cases supporting an employer’s right to refuse to pay for contraception as part of employee health coverage if doing so violates the employer’s religious beliefs. This viewpoint regarding religious liberties has serious implications for LGBT people.
The letter states in part:
On behalf of our 800,000 members, Equality California is deeply concerned about Mr. Gorsuch’s judicial rulings and philosophy and his zeal to expand religious liberties, as demonstrated by his signature argument in the Hobby Lobby case. In his opinion, Mr. Gorsuch supported the denial of birth control coverage for employees in their company-provided health plans if an employer claims that denying such coverage is based on “religious beliefs” Merely signing an ACA opt-out form, Gorsuch wrote, posed a moral dilemma for such employers because it made them ‘complicit’ in something they found ‘sinful.’
Expansive exemptions on religious grounds are being advanced by opponents of LGBT equality across the country as a primary means to gut LGBT civil rights protections, in a false premise that Christians are persecuted for their religious beliefs and their conservative social values in an era of rapid change. Christians in this country are not endangered. Our Constitution protects religious expression. It is, in fact, civil rights protections that are endangered when blatant discrimination is allowed if someone merely contends they are acting on their “sincerely held beliefs.” Employers, including religiously affiliated contractors, are not allowed to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, or disability, no matter what the employer’s beliefs. The civil rights of LGBT people should not be different. Religious exemptions to civil rights laws would effectively gut LGBT legal protections because any person who has a desire to discriminate can merely raise religious beliefs as an excuse and a justification. Judge Gorsuch’s views in this area are a direct and significant threat to LGBT equality and LGBT civil rights protections.
The letter to all 100 members of the United States Senate was signed by Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur and National Policy Director Valerie Ploumpis.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org