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New instances of legal discrimination are unnecessary

PEG PFABAs members of the Washington County Human Rights Council, we voice our profound concern over states which are enacting laws promoting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people.

Whether these laws are called “Public Facilities Privacy and Securities Act” (North Carolina) or “Protecting the Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” (Mississippi), the results are the same: governmental support of discrimination of people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

These laws are unnecessary in terms of religious freedom: there is no legal requirement for faith communities to include LGBT people in their communities if their belief system does not support that.

There is no requirement for Christian ministers to perform same-sex marriages if their conscience forbids it (anymore than a law can require a Rabbi to perform a marriage for a Jew and a Gentile, or a Roman Catholic priest to officiate at a marriage of a divorced person).

Religious freedoms are already protected.

Voluntary associations and/or religious organizations are not required to act against their religious/spiritual beliefs.

These laws (as in North Carolina and Mississippi) are simply forms of discrimination dressed up as concern for freedom of conscience.

The situation in which a person or group owns public accommodation or a business is a different situation.

Our civil society has, over the years, moved to prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation.

Though such discrimination (based on race, gender, national origin, etc.) unfortunately does still exist, it is shocking to see states writing such discriminating practices into their laws.

Such laws only promote hatred, divisiveness and bullying.

We support those businesses and government agencies that refuse to do business in those states until such laws are changed. We support Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s condemnation of such laws.

We ask all people of good will in Oregon to come together in support of the rights of all citizens to build a state and country where all people can be respected, safe, and can thrive in a supportive community.

Peg Pfab is secretary of the Human Rights Council of Washington County and a retired minister.