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    Two GOP Senators Working To Subject LGBTQ Children To Religious Discrimination At School

    Two Republican U.S. Senators have introduced a resolution to repeal a civil rights law Washington, D.C. passed to protect children from anti-LGBT discrimination. 

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    For some reason that probably made perfect sense when our Founding Fathers chose to make Washington, D.C. the nation's capitol, the U.S. Congress has the legal authority to overturn any law passed by DC's city council. It makes for a strained and tenuous relationship, especially since DC residents don't have a vote in Congress.

    Recently, the Washington, D.C. city council passed the Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014, designed to protect LGBTQ children from discrimination in religious schools. That law repeals the Armstrong Amendment, a 1989 law that carved religious exemptions into the Washington, D.C. Human Rights Act.

    Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, and James Lankford of Oklahoma have filed a resolution to repeal the DC law, thus ensuring LGBTQ children in religious schools have no protection against discrimination.

    MetroWeekly explains that the two Senators "insist that the act violates the freedom of religion of educational institutions who might otherwise be forced to recognize gay students groups, in opposition to their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality, as well as those who choose to attend those schools."

    The two Republicans also introduced a resolution that bans discrimination against employees baed on their personal reproductive health choices.

    Why?

    "Religious liberty."

    Claiming the City Council "is attempting to force religious institutions to provide services, make employment decisions, or participate in activities that directly violate their faith," Sen. Cruz issued a press release attack the city's efforts to expand civil rights for women, children and families. Cruz framed his position as one that would "welcome diversity of thought and protect the freedom of conscience."

    "We must stop this assault on the Catholic Church, and we must act to protect religious liberty," he added. It's unclear why he believes the Catholic Church and not other faiths are deserving of Cruz's special exemptions.

    Senator Lankford, who yesterday wrote an op-ed claiming that the right to not serve pork is exactly like the right to not serve gay people, also issued a press release.

    "What the D.C. Council has done is a major threat to the fundamental right to religious freedom for D.C. residents and organizations, and a brazen display of intolerance,” Lankford said. 

    Curiously, as the Washington Blade notes, neither Senator identified the Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 as a law that protects LGBT people. "They referred to it only as a measure that could force religious schools to support activities that 'violate the tenets of their faith.'"

    Meanwhile, a coalition of 58 LGBT advocacy, civil liberties, and reproductive rights groups, anticipating attempts by members of Congress to block to the two bills, issued a joint statement on Tuesday urging Congress not to kill the two bills and disputing claims that the bills would in any way infringe upon religious rights or freedom.

    “Unsurprisingly, opponents of these bills have unfairly mischaracterized them as ‘unprecedented assaults’ on religious liberty,” the statement says. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

    The statement adds, “Religious liberty is a fundamental American value. It guarantees us the freedom to hold any belief we choose and the right to act on our religious beliefs, but it does not allow us to discriminate against or otherwise harm others.”

    Under home rule, which puts DC at the mercy of the federal government, for Cruz and Lankford to be successful, both the House and Senate will have to pass the resolution and the President will have to sign it within 30 days of passage.

     

    Image by iprimages via Flickr and a CC license

     

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