With marriage equality out of the way (minus a few exceptions), it’s no secret that religious exemption laws represent one of the next major battlegrounds in the struggle for LGBT equality.
Which means that if you haven’t already, this might be a good time to bone up on which states have these laws, how they work and why they pose such a grave threat to gay rights going forward.
The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) released a report today that serves as a good primer on the subject, and as you can see in the map reproduced above, the news is not so good.
The report shows that nearly half of LGBT Americans live in one of 21 states with broad religious exemption laws, and with new proposals likely this fall, those numbers may soon grow. Already, lawmakers in 17 states have introduced religious exemption proposals since the beginning of the year, largely in response to the spread of marriage equality.
“While recently passed religious exemption legislation may not explicitly mention the LGBT community being targeted for discrimination, the timing and explicitly anti-LGBT rhetoric used to justify these exemptions makes it clear that religious exemptions are being used as a vehicle to harm LGBT individuals and their families,” said MAP Executive Director Ineke Mushovic. …
The original federal RFRA may have been passed with good intentions, but the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the law in Hobby Lobby—alongside states’ ever-increasing roster of religious exemptions, both broad and targeted—raise serious concerns about how these vague exemptions are being used to harm others, interfere with law enforcement, and undermine the rule of law.