Dozens of Reproductive Rights and LGBTQ Organizations Speak Out Against Efforts to Discriminate in Congress


WASHINGTON, DC — Today, an extreme group of anti-women’s health members of Congress moved forward to block a commonsense measure that would protect women who live in the District of Columbia from employment discrimination based on their reproductive health care decisions. The resolution, brought forward by Rep. Diane Black (TN), seeks to overturn the District of Columbia’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA), which was passed to protect women from discrimination at a time when bills that would allow businesses to discriminate against their employees or deny services based on their religious beliefs are sweeping the nation.  

Today, Planned Parenthood joined dozens of reproductive rights and LGBTQ groups in a statement against congressional efforts to block RHNDA and another DC nondiscrimination bill — the Human Rights Amendment Act — that is designed to ensure that LGBT students in the District are not subject to discrimination by schools and universities (full text of the letter is below). 

“It’s outrageous, yet unfortunately not surprising, that politicians in Congress are trying to block this commonsense law from taking effect,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “This is part of an unpopular agenda that we’ve seen sweep states like Indiana and Arkansas that allows bosses to discriminate based on their personal beliefs.  We are all entitled to our beliefs; however, that shouldn’t give bosses a license to discriminate against women for their personal health care decisions. All women and men should have the ability to make their own health care decisions — without politicians or their bosses getting in the way.” 

“Enough is enough. It is preposterous that the District’s own duly elected officials cannot enforce laws without congressional interference. The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) protects the rights of a woman in DC to make her own health care decisions regarding family planning without interference from her boss or politicians outside of the District. No one should ever worry that their personal decisions about birth control, pregnancy, abortion or other reproductive health issues could affect their employment,” said Laura Meyers, Ph.D., CEO Planned Parenthood Metropolitan Washington, DC, Action Fund.

Recently laws in Indiana and Arkansas that allow businesses to discriminate based on religion captured the nation’s attention and launched an unprecedented backlash from the public and corporate America. However, these new laws build on an existing framework of “religious refusal” policies and the recent decision by the US Supreme Court in Hobby Lobby that allow individuals, businesses, and other organizations to refuse to provide service. While some of the recently enacted laws were targeted at LGBT people, they all have the potential to harm many types of individuals, including women who are denied health care services.

BACKGROUND:

  • The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act would protect employees who work in DC from workplace discrimination based on the employees’ personal reproductive health care decisions. For example, it would prohibit an employer from firing an employee for using in vitro fertilization or birth control.
  • RHNDA amends DC’s Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy status, childbirth, or related medical conditions, by adding a provision prohibiting discrimination based on reproductive health decisions.

Joint Statement

April 21, 2015

Joint Statement Opposing Efforts to Use Religion to Discriminate in Congress from Organizations Advocating for LGBT Rights, Reproductive Freedom, and Freedom of Religion and Belief 

As leaders in movements for LGBT equality, reproductive freedom, and freedom of religion and belief, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in opposition to efforts – at the state and federal level – to use religion to discriminate.  We know all too well how people can be harmed when discrimination is allowed under the guise of religious liberty.  Religious freedom is an important American value that guarantees all of us the freedom to hold any belief we choose, but it does not allow us to discriminate against and harm others.  That is true with respect to businesses citing religious beliefs to refuse to serve people based on who they are or who they love.  It is equally true when religion is invoked to deny women essential reproductive health care, or to discriminate against them for their private, personal health care decisions.

We stand in united opposition to an effort in Congress (H.J. Res. 43) that would block a District of Columbia bill – the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act – that is designed to ensure that D.C. residents are not subject to employment discrimination because of their reproductive health care decisions.  Women and men in D.C. should have the ability to make their own decisions about their reproductive health without fear of losing their jobs or facing retribution from their employers.  This afternoon, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee adopted this measure to block the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act.

We are also strongly opposed to a measure (H.J. Res. 44) that would block another D.C. nondiscrimination bill – the Human Rights Amendment Act – that is designed to ensure that LGBT students in the District are not subject to discrimination by schools and universities.  Members of Congress should stand on the side of dignity and human rights by rejecting these efforts.

We stand together – and we will vigorously oppose every effort to allow religious claims to be used to discriminate and harm others. 

American Civil Liberties Union
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Anti-Defamation League
Believe Out Loud
Bisexual Resource Center
Center for Black Equity, Inc.
Center for Reproductive Rights
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
COLAGE
Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
Equality Federation
Freedom to Marry
GLAAD
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Gay-Straight Alliance Network
Human Rights Campaign
Lambda Legal
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Abortion Federation
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)
National Council of Jewish Women
National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Organization for Women (NOW)
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
National Women’s Law Center
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
People For the American Way
PFLAG National
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Reproductive Health Technologies Project
SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders)
Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC)
Transgender Law Center