The end of the year and the holiday season brings with it the opportunity to reflect, to connect, and to be thankful for what we have faith in — be it our friends and chosen family, our community, our spirituality, or a higher power.
For those of us who do celebrate religious holidays, as we come together (virtually) in song, in prayer, and in light we reaffirm the values and beliefs that connect us to each other. These values include treating each other with love and ensuring that no one is singled out.
As we at Equality Texas prepare for the 2021 session this holiday season, we need our faith communities more than ever to fight for statewide nondiscrimination protections and against religious refusals and anti-trans legislation. Is easy to forget that the legislative session is now less than a month away.
While we don’t quite know what a legislative session under the pandemic will look like, we do know what strategies anti-LGBTQ+ advocates are already planning. We’ve already seen a return of the negative and absurd “ban the bible” campaign to drum up opposition to pro-LGBTQ+ legislation.
We’ve also seen a resurgence of the religious refusal bills that carve out ways to discriminate under the guise of “religious freedom,” all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) with the case of Fulton v. Philadelphia. We know how important true religious freedom is and that it is not mutually exclusive with the existence of LGBTQ+ people. Religious refusal arguments spread the false narrative that there is an irreconcilable wedge between people of faith and the LGBTQ+ community. We know better.
Texas faith leaders and activists pushed back against that narrative in 2017 with a faith sign-on letter denouncing any attempts to use religion to demonize the LGBTQ+ community with over 200 signatories. That’s why we’re releasing a new letter to speak to our new reality. With everything going on right now it’s crucially important to ensure that no one can be evicted, fired, denied services, or refused healthcare just because of who they are or who they love.
We plan to share this letter and its signatories with legislators on January 16th, “Religious Freedom Day,” so that our legislators know that Texans of faith support LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination protections and are opposed to any attempts to use religion as a sword against the LGBTQ+ community.
If you’re a faith leader, please share your commitment to equality and sign onto our 2020 “Faith Leaders Against Discrimination Open Letter” today. If you’re not a faith leader, but a person of faith, please encourage your clergy to sign onto this letter.
A majority of Texans of every region, religion and major ethnic group support legal protections against discrimination for the LGBTQ+ community. Make sure legislators aren’t swayed by a vocal minority by signing onto the open letter and invite other faith leaders in your circle to do the same.