In response to today’s nomination by Donald Trump of 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur issued the following statement:
“Judge Gorsuch gained national attention for his opinions 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. That bodes ill for LGBT people who are facing an onslaught of laws sanctioning discrimination in the name of religious liberty.
Judge Gorsuch’s opinions in prior cases such as Hobby Lobby leave us deeply concerned about his willingness to uphold laws protecting LGBT people from bias, not to mention protecting the separation of church and state. The stakes could not be higher. Gorsuch’s hard-right ideology and zeal to dramatically expand religious exemptions poses an immediate threat to the advances that LGBT Americans have recently achieved.
These expansive exemptions on religious grounds are often the means by which anti-LGBT policies are framed, in a false narrative that Christians are persecuted for their religious beliefs. It appears that President Trump has embraced this narrative as he calls upon millions of evangelicals to defend conservative social values in an era of rapid change. Allowing exemptions from civil rights protections on other grounds would immediately be deemed absurd. After all, employers, including religiously affiliated contractors, are not allowed to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, or disability, even when that employer has religious beliefs that advance such discrimination. There is no reason that the nation’s civil rights protections should be any different for LGBT people.
If religious exemptions are expanded, millions of LGBT Americans could face profound discrimination in health care, public accommodations, and employment. The danger is clear, and so is Equality California’s position: We oppose Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
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