Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania

Statement of The Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania in Support of The Pennsylvania Fairness Act PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 22 November 2015 23:44
All people of faith in Pennsylvania are invited to show support for nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens of Pennsylvania. Our hope is to urge legislators to pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act before the holidays. The official statement of support from The Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania is listed below. Please consider signing a faith petition and/or writing to your legislators using this toolkit. (http://bit.ly/equalitypafaithtoolkit)

Statement in Support of The Pennsylvania Fairness Act

November 23, 2015

The Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania strongly supports passage of the Pennsylvania Fairness Act. Our faith communities are clear about the morality of discrimination. All of our faith traditions proclaim the basic and inherent dignity of each human being. Each of our western religious traditions proclaim that every person is created in the Image of God.

The various spiritual traditions of the world teach that we should love one another; that each person has inherent dignity which must be upheld; that we should exercise humility in judgment; generosity in forgiveness; and zeal in regard to the pursuit of justice. We stand with the basic teachings of our religious traditions in calling for an end to legal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens in our Commonwealth.

Most religious denominations active in Pennsylvania have taken official moral stances that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people should be protected from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. These moral positions have been in place for many years, and yet it is still legal to discriminate in Pennsylvania.

We are part of a diverse and broad community of religious leaders and people of faith who have specifically spoken to this point, including bishops and other denominational leaders. So far, at least 850 faith leaders and more than 3000 of people of faith around our Commonwealth support statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people in Pennsylvania.

We do this because our faith leads us to believe that all human beings deserve the dignity of work and the ability to use their gifts for the good of the community. Nobody should live in fear that they might be denied housing or turned away from a business simply because of who they are.

Long ago, we realized as a nation that there is a moral line that cannot be crossed by excluding certain people based on who they are. It is long past time to update our laws to protect our citizens from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, the same way other minority groups have been protected by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act since 1955.

Discrimination is immoral because it attacks a person’s dignity. Allowing discrimination tells LGBT people they that they have no place in our society. The freedom to hold a job, the freedom to establish a home, the freedom to live as equals in our communities – all of this amounts to the freedom to live. Discrimination means depriving people of their ability to live. It is an act of social, economic and spiritual violence.

Confusion around questions of religious liberty have recently become part of this discussion. Religious liberty is a fundamental protection granted by the United States Constitution to allow people to live as equals in our communities regardless of their religious beliefs. This means respecting different beliefs when we engage one another in civic and commercial activities. It is a basic contradiction to use the argument of religious liberty to justify imposing one set of religious beliefs on another person or group to the point of excluding them from civic or commercial activity. In fact, this is the very reason we have needed religious liberty protections in the first place. Let us be clear that the right thing to do as people of faith is to respect one another in our daily lives. Our personal beliefs are not compromised by a requirement to treat people with dignity and respect.

The vast majority of people of faith believe in their hearts that their faith commitment to love one another means they must act to love our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender neighbors by protecting them from discrimination. We call on our legislators to do the right thing and pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act without delay.


Rabbi Carl S. Choper

President of The Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania
 
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