JENNIFER PIZER IMAGE / LAMBDA LEGAL
Civil rights lawyer Jennifer C. Pizer and OutCasters Lucas 2 and Isha
An in-depth 24 part exploration of the epic conflict, of such importance today, between two fundamental constitutional rights: religious freedom vs.equality.
In this series, the eminent civil rights lawyer Jennifer C. Pizer joins OutCasting youth broadcasters Lucas 2 and Isha to discuss the important idea that while people may hold whatever religious beliefs they want to, society can't function if these beliefs turn into a license to discriminate, diminishing the equality rights of others.
Or to put it another way: Should the consitutional right of LGBTQ people to be equal under the law be denied in order to avoid offending the religious beliefs of other people?
OutCasting #76 — Part 1 — September 1, 2020
OutCasting #77 — Part 2 — October 1, 2020
OutCasting #78 — Part 3 — November 1, 2020
OutCasting #79 — Part 4 — December 1, 2020
OutCasting #80 — Part 5 — January 1, 2021
OutCasting #81 — Part 6 — February 1, 2021
OutCasting #82 — Part 7 — March 1, 2021
OutCasting #83 — Part 8 — April 1, 2021
OutCasting #84 — Part 9 — May 1, 2021
OutCasting #85 — Part 10 — June 1, 2021
OutCasting #86 — Part 11 — July 1, 2021
OutCasting #87 — Part 12 — August 1, 2021
OutCasting #88 — Part 13 — September 1, 2021
OutCasting #89 — Part 14 — October 1, 2021
OutCasting #90 — Part 15 — November 1,2021
OutCasting #91 — Part 16 — December 1, 2021
OutCasting #92 — Part 17 — January 1, 2022
OutCasting #93 — Part 18 — February 1, 2022
OutCasting #94 — Part 19 — March 1, 2022
OutCasting #95 — Part 20 — April 1, 2022
OutCasting #96 — Part 21 — May 1, 2022
OutCasting #97 — Part 22 — June 1, 2022
OutCasting #98 — Part 23 — July 1, 2022
OutCasting #99 — Part 24 — August 1, 2022
September 2020 through August 2022 — There are some religious people, congregations, and religions that support LGBTQ people. In the Episcopal Church, Bishop Gene Robinson was the first openly gay Bishop — but his consecration led to a worldwide split in the church over the issue of homosexuality. In New York City, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah is an LGBTQ-welcoming synagogue with an openly gay leader, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum. Both Bishop Gene and Rabbi Kleinbaum were guests on earlier editions of OutCasting; you can listen to their interviews: here for Rabbi Kleinbaum; here for Bishop Gene.
But historically, many religions have condemned LGBTQ people. The Catholic church has described homosexuality as an “intrinsic disorder” and encouraged people to “condemn the sin, not the sinner” — as if people can just rip sexuality out of their lives without inflicting great harm on themselves. Any number of religious counselors continue to practice conversion or reparative therapy to “cure” people of being gay even as a growing number of states, and even some other countries, recognize that this “treatment” is ineffective and potentially dangerous. We produced a series in early 2020 on conversion therapy; it’s also available here at OutCastingMedia.org.
As the law is catching up with growing public acceptance of LGBTQ people and as we have secured a number of important civil rights, there’s a movement determined to put us firmly back in our place, as they would have it. Cakeshops and florists claim that they’re entitled to deny their services to us because they say that providing services to LGBTQ people would violate their religious liberty. This discrimination would never be seen as legitimate if it were directed at other minority groups. Just imagine it — a shop owner says: “My religious liberty prevents me from serving Black people, or Jewish people, so go away.” It’s unthinkable that that would be seen as acceptable in today’s world. And of course, there are businesses where the stakes would be much higher if it becomes the law that businesses can just turn away LGBTQ people based on a religious objection.
So is there any legitimacy when a business owner cites religious liberty to justify denying service to LGBTQ people? What are the contours of religious liberty? What’s supposed to happen when someone, citing religious liberty, discriminates against LGBTQ people, thus denying their equality? What does “equality” mean in the United States? Does one take precedence over the other when equality and religious liberty come into conflict?
Joining OutCaster Lucas to delve into this issue is Jennifer C. Pizer. Jenny is the Senior Counsel and Director of Law and Policy for Lambda Legal, the country's oldest and largest legal organization seeking full recognition of the civil rights of LGBT people and everyone living with HIV.
Part 4 of the series also includes a commentary by OutCaster Chris about recent developments on religious freedom and LGBTQ equality at the Supreme Court. This includes an excerpt from a commentary, originally heard on OutCasting Overtime, on the October statement by Supreme Court Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Alito, attacking the Court’s marriage equality decision in the Obergefell case and complaining about how that case has led to what they see as unjustified criticism of people who hold religious beliefs against same sex marriage.
Part 10 (June 2021) — The initial interviews for this series with Jenny and Lucas were recorded in August and September 2020. Starting with Part 10 (June 2021), OutCaster Isha interviews Jenny to provide updates on what's happened since the summer of 2020, including the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her replacement on the Court by Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
Part 11 (July 2021) — In June, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in a case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, in which a Catholic adoption agency pressed a religious freedom claim to "opt out" of the city's nondiscrimination rules. We'll dive into a discussion of Fulton in an upcoming edition of OutCasting.
In preparation for that discussion, in this month's edition, Jenny and Isha discuss:
Parts 12-14 (August-October 2021) — In these episodes, Jenny and Isha talk about the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, decided by the Supreme Court in June 2021, in which a Catholic adoption agency pressed a religious freedom claim to "opt out" of the city's nondiscrimination rules. The decision united the Court's liberals with the conservatives in allowing the to discriminate against same sex couples. The unanimity surprised some. Was there more to the ruling than meets the eye?
Part 15 (November 2021) — Rebuilding the eroded wall between church and state; envisioning the legal approach of the newest Supreme Court justice, Amy Coney Barrett, on religious liberty and LGBTQ issues; examining the Court’s approaches to abortion and Covid through the lens of religious liberty; and the gap between reality and the ideals that the United States is supposed to represent.
Part 16 (December 2021) — The bill of rights, the roles of the courts and the legislative process, and the angry and perhaps even unjudicial vehemence of Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito on how religious liberty should override LGBTQ people’s rights to equality. Did Roe v. Wade decide the abortion issue too soon? What about marriage equality – should it have been secured through legislation instead of the courts?
Part 17 (January 2022) — There have been lawsuits about bakers and florists who don’t want to provide cakes or flowers for same sex weddings. They say that if they did, it would amount to complicity, participation, and even endorsement of something against their religious beliefs. Does this argument hold water? How are the courts viewing this issue, and is the composition of the Supreme Court changing the analysis?
In this 17th part of our in-depth OutCasting series, we look at the difference between religious belief, religiously motivated behavior, and the golden rule.
Also, Supreme Court Justice Alito's fiery and controversial speech about religious liberty to the Federalist Society; the claiming of victimhood by religious people when civil rights laws don't allow them to discriminate; and considering the expansion of the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts to restore balance.
Part 18 (March 2022) — The Supreme Court may overrule Roe v. Wade, which could limit or even eliminate women’s constitutional rights to choose abortion. What could this mean for LGBTQ rights that have been recognized by the Court?
Also: the public perception of the Court’s legitimacy; the difference between discrimination and mere different treatment; and a case in Maine that could further erode the separation between church and state by requiring taxpayers to fund religious education.
Part 19 (March 2022) — Does it violate the separation between church and state if the Supreme Court requires a state to pay for religious education? How are religious rights being expanded to allow people to disregard the law? How do laws that target LGBTQ people for unequal treatment increase the risk of violence?
Part 20 (April 2022) — The Biden administration’s work to undo the anti-LGBTQ policies of the Trump administration; current status of the Equality Act; growth in inclusivity in the LGBTQ rights movement and how the movement advances.
Part 21 (May 2022) — Martin Luther King said that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. But does it bend toward justice all by itself? On this edition of OutCasting, youth broadcaster Isha continues her conversation with civil rights attorney Jennifer C. Pizer about the ongoing work to decrease the inequality imposed on LGBTQ people by religiously-based discrimination.
Part 22 (June 2022) — The constitution is supposed to guarantee equality for all. But is the movement to advance equality for LGBTQ people endangered as the wall of separation between church and state is being eroded? Is the movement trying to dictate what religions can do, and can people embrace LGBTQ equality without giving up their religious beliefs?
Part 23 (July 2022) — Is it "indoctrination" when schools teach kids about LGBTQ issues? How should people respond when parents and schools seek to censor what's discussed in schools in the name of "protecting" children?
In this edition, we explore the myths pushed by right-wing politicians — the people who are actually abusing children through their anti-LGBTQ policies. We also talk about what to do when the courts undermine equality and the separation of church and state.
Part 24 (August 2022) — How is the ongoing fight for LGBTQ equality affected when the courts impose religious beliefs on the public? In the wake of the Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade, are settled rights like marriage equality really safe? Where does freedom of religious belief cross the line into harming other people? How can young people make a difference in the fight for equality? And most foundationally: Should the constitutional right of LGBTQ people to be equal under the law be denied in order to avoid offending some people’s religious beliefs?
In this final part of this extensive series, which features OutCaster Isha’s interview with civil rights lawyer Jennifer C. Pizer, we consider one of the most foundational questions we've raised: Should the constitutional right of LGBTQ people to be equal under the law be denied in order not to offend some people’s religious beliefs?
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