Law, Rights, and Religion Project

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Increasingly, the long-standing national commitment to equality is being undermined by competing claims to religious liberty. Advocates, politicians, and the media have all documented the “wave of religious-freedom bills” introduced in recent years, “almost all inspired by objections to homosexuality and same-sex marriage.” In the 2015-2016 legislative session, dozens of bills were introduced at the state and federal levels that would have created exemptions to otherwise generally applicable laws, including antidiscrimination protections, for persons whose sincerely held religious beliefs conflict with those laws. The most extreme version of these bills would allow religious objectors to engage in a wide range of harmful behavior, including denial of employment, housing, public benefits, and access to social services, free from legal consequences.