Can the Federal Government Find a Balance Between Religious Liberty and LGBTQ Protections?

In 1964, the U.S. government passed the Civil Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Now, LGBTQ groups are fighting to have sexual orientation and gender identity listed as protected classes that cannot be discriminated against.

The Supreme Court is currently deciding a case to determine if gender identity is implicitly included as a protected class under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Simultaneously, Congress is considering passing The Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

Additionally, Congress is considering the Fairness For All Act, which would also prevent discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. However, the bill allows exceptions for faith-based objections. For example, doctors could refuse to provide gender-transition care for faith reasons, and religious groups could discriminate against LGBTQ parents during adoption processes, among other things.

Those who argue that the government can find a balance between religious liberty and LGBTQ protections claim that a compromise between these two principles is possible. This side argues that a law like the Fairness For All Act would respect an individual’s faith while also providing legal protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender orientation.

Those who believe that a balance cannot be found between religious liberty and LGBTQ protections argue that the two principles are diametrically opposed. There are two subsets to this side: they either argue that LGBTQ rights need to be protected with no exceptions or that religious liberty needs to be protected with no exceptions.

So, what do you think? Can the federal government find a balance between religious liberty and LGBTQ protections? Students can either argue Yes, the government can find a balance, No, the government cannot find a balance, or something in between!

Note: Ideal Think the Vote responses include the following:

-Address the question asked in a thoughtful and meaningful manner

-Use cited facts and constitutional arguments when appropriate to support their answers

-Are expressed in cohesive sentences and is free of distracting spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors

-They address counter-arguments and opposing concerns in a respectful manner

-They organize their answer in a manner that flows logically and reads clearly

Current Standings:
Yes: 57%
No: 43%
  • Sierra from California

    It’s morally corrupt to insinuate that religious freedom is impacted by LGBTQ rights. When arguing that people, born with natural rights and liberty as proclaimed by one of our constitutional leaders John Locke , are somehow infringing upon the religious freedom of individuals simply by living and existing,
    a problem is jarringly apparent. Supporting the argument that LGBTQ people deserve rights regardless of another’s religious affiliation doesn’t automatically equate with hating religion and those who find comfort in the existence of a higher being. I find it admirable that those of religious faith are able to dedicate their lives towards a way of living that is primarily positive. However, when individuals turn their faith into a weapon, using it to mask hatred and a lack of respect and love for others who don’t coincide with their beliefs, that’s when I believe it goes beyond the concept of providing “religious liberty”. Yet, I understand that in order to find some semblance of balance between the two conflicting ideologies it will require sacrifices from both groups. The proposed Fairness For All Act is an example of a common ground and balance attempt that showcases sacrifices having to be made for both religious freedom and LGBTQ rights. This Act prevents discrimination of LGBTQ individuals, HOWEVER it still allows discriminatory behavior in healthcare, adoption services, and other services that could be withhold on faith-based exceptions. In my personal opinion, I believe your religious freedom should not infringe on another individuals rights to healthcare services, or access to the same opportunities religious people are without the threat of it being refused due to their lifestyle choices. Yet, democracy is built on the idea of compromise and listening to the will of the people, even if it isn’t always equal. Our government should ultimately strive for equal protection for all U.S. citizens, but it’s not always realistically possible. I believe a balance between religious liberty and LGBTQ rights is possible, the Fairness For All Act is living proof. However, religious interests should not be held above the right for an LGBTQ individual to live with basic human rights. And unfortunately that is what I believe is the current bias in all attempts at “compromise”.

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    It’s morally corrupt to insinuate that religious freedom is impacted by LGBTQ rights. When arguing that people, born with natural rights and liberty a…

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  • Lucy from Arkansas

    Love is love. God is love. Treat everyone with love and respect no matter who they are.

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  • mia from Alabama

    Exactly! You should not let your feelings on certain topics decide how you treat other people.

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  • Tyler from Minnesota

    I believe that no matter your religion nor your opinion should affect how much decency you show to another human being, were the human race we either run together or don’t run at all

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    I believe that no matter your religion nor your opinion should affect how much decency you show to another human being, were the human race we either …

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  • Ryan from Massachusetts

    Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers states and by quote, “All men are created equal”; this implies towards all sexual orientations, race, and genders. Religious liberty is a foundational American value. Which means, under the First Amendment, one has the right to practice faith, and live free in a government-established nation. This is the beauty of America, and exemplifies the American culture we live in. 88% of Americans agree that religious liberty is a founding principle. Throughout our history, legislatures worked vigorously to protect liberty for all Americans. Because of the First Amendment, religious liberty and LGBTQ+ rights must hold a balance between one another and hold a true value towards Americans.

    The purpose of the Civil Rights Act is to propose equality and rights between all men.

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    Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers states and by quote, “All men are created equal”; this implies towards all sexual orientations, race, an…

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  • Madeline from Indiana

    For the balance between religious liberty and LGBTQ protections to be right, it must be two things.

    First, it must be legal. Religious liberty is protected by law in the Constitution (Amendment 1). Any law that infringes upon it is illegal. A balance between religious liberty and LGBTQ protection can compromise only LGBTQ rights, which are not protected in the Constitution.

    Second, it cannot make any exceptions to our capitalist system. If a cake baker does not want to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding, he doesn’t have to, but if people boycott him because of it, there is nothing in place to keep him from going out of business. This is how it works in other situations, and gay people are not the exception.

    The Federal Government can find a balance between religious liberty and LGBTQ protections, as long as it understands that gays aren’t the exception to capitalism, and certainly not to the law.

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    For the balance between religious liberty and LGBTQ protections to be right, it must be two things.

    First, it must be legal. Religious liberty is …

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  • Josh from Arizona

    Coming at this debate from a fairly historical standpoint, we have seen that every generation of Americans has grown more liberal than the last and so in my view, it is almost certain that there will soon be a generation of Americans that will strike this balance between LGBTQ rights and religious freedom. To pose a hypothetical question though, what if someone were to object to the civil rights act as it is now based on their religious beliefs? Would this type of discriminatory act be protected under expression of religious beliefs? No, of course it wouldn’t and I believe that LGBTQ rights should be no different. There are studies to prove that sexual orientation and gender identity are predetermined character traits just as skin color and national origin is, and for these reasons alone, LGBTQ rights should be protected.

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    Coming at this debate from a fairly historical standpoint, we have seen that every generation of Americans has grown more liberal than the last and so…

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    • Ayesha from New York

      I do not think we will be able to strike this balance at all. This is merely because there is no balance to be achieved within government, that is. Our country has been built on the doctrine of separation of church and state and we seem to forget that fact on a daily basis. Our country was built to allow for religious freedom, in a way that one person may practice his/her religion but this does NOT give them the right to impose said religion or said religion’s beliefs and values, on to someone else. That is exactly what would happen if we allow for more religious based belief into government, where inherently it does not belong.

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      I do not think we will be able to strike this balance at all. This is merely because there is no balance to be achieved within government, that is. Ou…

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  • Katie from Oklahoma

    I believe that there must be some way to respect both parties’ interests.

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  • Don from Virginia

    “And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.'”
    – Acts 17:6-7

    The federal government cannot find a balance between religious liberty and protections for those who identify as LGBT because the premise of “protections” for the LGBT community requires that the government assure them, through the force of law, access to “public accommodations” from people who choose to run their businesses in accordance with their religious beliefs. By “public accommodations”, I do not mean that businesses are simply refusing people food, medical care, or electricity because of their sexual orientation, but that businesses define access to restrooms on the basis of biological sex, refuse to produce custom products that endorse same-sex ceremonies, or enforce dress codes on their employees.

    There is no sustainable compromise between State enforcement of “LGBT rights” against private actors and religious liberty, because religious liberty protects Americans’ right to live out their convictions in the public sphere. If the State decides when and how religious convictions can be expressed in the business world through some form of “compromise” such as the Fairness for All Act, the “balance” has already been destroyed, because the State, rather than God, is placed in the position of sovereign. In a system where true “separation of church and state” is respected, the State cannot dictate the terms of religious expression, especially over the Christian worldview, which sees the Bible as the rule for all of life. Many of the questions business owners will have to ask along the margins are difficult – and in those questions, conscience, not coercion, should be dispositive.

    At its core, this is a question of power. Those who claim a LGBT identity are not unable to access any service or product that anyone else could obtain. Someone seeking a cake to commemorate the legal recognition of a same-sex relationship is perfectly free to simply go to another bakery. Today, every single major corporation is pro-LGBT, even the previous Christian conservative bastion of Chick fil-A. The original intent of public accommodations law – to prevent the arbitrary denial of goods and services based on factors such as race – clearly does not apply, considering that there is no actual problem with access to goods and services. Rather, the effort is to enforce compliance with today’s iteration of the ever-changing moral standards of humanism.

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    “And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These men who have turned the …

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  • Jacquelynne from Missouri

    Religious liberty is separate from that of the LGBTQ Community. The religion America was built on was Christian. God was the foundation for America and God did not create man and women to be what the LGBTQ wants them to be. God designed marriage as man and woman, not man and man and woman and woman. He also designed us to be the sex we were born with. If the government tried to find a balance between these people, it would never work, because God did not create us to be lesbian, gay, or experience a same-sex relationship. The Bible does say, however, to love your neighbor as yourself. Therefore, those of the religious community needs to “love” those who are in worldly relationships rather than godly relationships. There is a saying consistently repeated in the church community, which is, “Love the person, hate the sin.” This is the balance between the religious and the LGTBQ’s.
    Thank you.

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    Religious liberty is separate from that of the LGBTQ Community. The religion America was built on was Christian. God was the foundation for America …

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    • Sierra from California

      I appreciate your sentiments but the questions isn’t: do LGBTQ people coincide with the christian faith. It’s asking if a balance between religious liberty and LGBTQ rights is possible. Before I respond any further I’d also like to add that you’re very naively only including the Christian faith within the broad term of “religious liberty”. Religious liberty includes those belonging to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc… Further, your argument that the U.S. was built on christian beliefs therefore we should never stray from the “foundational principle” is again easily refuted. I’m sure you’re aware that our nation was also built upon the ideas of racism, and sexism, however our nation has evolved with the times and progressed towards being a country that truly represents “liberty and justice for all”. I agree that the religious community needs to “love” those of LGBTQ affiliation, and through this they need to not allow discriminatory behavior against them in the government action based on their want for “religious liberty”. Our religious liberty is secured in the very first constitutional amendment, we don’t need to attack others to further secure it.

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      I appreciate your sentiments but the questions isn’t: do LGBTQ people coincide with the christian faith. It’s asking if a balance between religious li…

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  • Aurora from Arizona

    It’s impossible to make everyone happy in this subject. If you give either side a little too much leeway then the other side is unhappy. They’re completely opposing views. Adding onto that what is it that you could say to appease either side? “Sure you can discriminate someone for being gay but only sometimes.” It’s nonsensical. On that note however you should still be willing to understand someone’s view based on their religious or sexual orientation.

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    It’s impossible to make everyone happy in this subject. If you give either side a little too much leeway then the other side is unhappy. They’re c…

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  • Olivia from Indiana

    The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, and national origin, which are all things that someone cannot change. For the sake of argument, I will assume for now that it does so lawfully and rightly and that sexual orientation and gender identity are likewise immutable characteristics. However, these “immutable characteristics” are distinct from the lifestyle choices with which they are persistently conflated. (For example, the “immutable characteristic” of gender dysphoria is distinct from the lifestyle choice of cross-dressing.) Here is why this is important: There are differences among discriminating against LGBTQ ideology, discriminating against a person because of his LGBTQ lifestyle, and discriminating against a person because of his predisposition towards an LGBTQ lifestyle.
    For example, consider a hypothetical screen printer who sells custom T-shirts and has a religious belief that denying or attempting to change one’s sex is wrong. If someone who had gender dysphoria and who dressed as the opposite sex came into his shop and ordered a hundred T-shirts to promote a pro-“transgender” rally he was organizing, the screen printer could:
    1) refuse to make the T-shirts because he didn’t agree with the message of the rally,
    2) refuse to make the T-shirts because the rally organizer wore gender-inappropriate clothes, or
    3) refuse to make the T-shirts because the rally organizer had gender dysphoria.
    The first choice is protected by the First Amendment.
    The second is more controversial. The nearest counterpart to cross-dressing in the Civil Rights Act is religion, because both are choices. One is free exercise of religion; the other is free expression of gender identity. However, I argue that, because free exercise of religion is explicitly protected by the Constitution, while free expression of gender identity is not, the screen printer’s freedom of religion would trump the rally organizer’s “right” to be protected from discrimination. Constitutional rights trump “civil rights” because the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. (By this same logic, the Constitutional right to free speech trumps the “civil right” to be called by a preferred gender pronoun.)
    Regarding the third choice, I am going to say something so presumptively condemned that it would have to gain immense popularity even to be considered controversial: for the sake of argument, I have thus far assumed the position that the Civil Rights Act was rightly and lawfully passed; now, I am going to assert that it was not. Here is my argument: Every right is a restriction on either power or liberty. While Constitutional rights are restrictions of the government’s power, “civil rights” are infringements on the people’s liberty, and there is no Constitutional predication for such infringements. They are not “necessary and proper for carrying into Execution” the government’s Constitutional powers, nor are they among them. (Even in the case of religious liberty, a First-Amendment right, anti-discrimination laws are unconstitutional; Congress is forbidden to interfere with religious liberty but is given no special authority to protect it.) While the Constitution could be amended to authorize the Civil Rights Act and its recently proposed analogues, I contend that the government should not be given the requisite power to criminalize motivation. (This is distinct from criminalizing intent, as in obstruction of justice; intent to obstruct justice does not implicate a specific motivation for doing so. It is also distinct from vindication based on either motivation or intent even as the president’s power to have someone pardoned is different from the power to have someone sentenced.)
    In conclusion, Constitutional religious liberty trumps LGBTQ “civil rights.” The government cannot lawfully balance LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections and religious liberty, and I contend that, rather than amending the Constitution, Congress should repeal its anti-discrimination laws and revoke the ones it has proposed. If you reply with a logical opposing argument, I would love to read it. (You are also welcome to label this view “homophobic,” “transphobic,” “xenophobic,” “racist,” and “sexist;” your Constitutional right to free speech trumps my “civil right” not to be offended.)

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    The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, and national origin, which are all things that someone cannot change. For the…

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  • Lee from Tennessee

    Because this new community is bad and is trying to force people to change to none gender which is gross.

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    • Lucy from Arkansas

      I wish you would elaborate on your position on the issue at hand. In my reply I would like to dissect your comment and analyze your opinion on the topic and my opinion to your bigoted views.
      – Your first statement when addressing the issue is “this new community is bad”. You do not care to elaborate on your statement and just leave it at that. How are they bad? What did they do to make you come to this opinion? I think that saying a community is bad is too one sided and simple. Weather or not a person or community is bad is more nuanced than the black and white scenario that you are trying to depict. You also claim that this community is “new”. By no means is the LGBTQ+ community new. They have been around long before the movement that you are familiar with came around. Rather they have been cornered into silence by those who deem their sexuality (something they can’t even choose) as bad. Also some people use religion as an excuse to bash and bully those who belong to this community, but in the Christian bible there are even instances of same sex love. In the story of Ruth and Naomi it says that Ruth “clung” to Naomi. Many have argued that they were a same-sexed couple because of the usage of the word “clung” and that same word was also used to describe how Adam clung to Eve. Others retort that the bible wouldn’t even have a same sexed couple in it because God doesn’t support same sexed attraction but then I ask, “Why are there prostitutes in the bible? Does God support selling your body?” because prostitution, although included in the book, is a sin according to the bible. Not everything is black and white and you can’t just say that a group of people are bad just because they do something that you don’t agree with.
      – And the second part of your argument (if you can even call it that) saying that the LGBTQ+ community is ” trying to force people to change to none gender” doesn’t even make sense. I myself have never had an instance in which i was forced to change my gender into one that is outside the binary, and if you had then that is not okay and no one should be telling you who you are. Self identity is something that you determine for yourself, not what someone tells you to be. And that is exactly what the people in the LGBTQ+ community are trying to argue. You shouldn’t try to force a gay man to be straight, just as they should try to force you to be genderless. Also another point to that is half the groups in the LGBTQ+ community wouldnt even exist if they were all genderless and wanted other people to be too. Lesbians are girls attracted to girls. Gay men are males attracted to males. They are not genderless people attracted to other genderless people. If that were the case then a defining part of the people in this community and everyone else, their sexuality and gender, wouldn’t even be a thing anymore and there wouldn’t even be a struggle for equality.
      In conclusion I don’t think that the LGBTQ+ group is bad or gross, but rather I think that your bigoted view points on the people and the topic are. I go to a catholic school and they say “God is Love” and I say to that “love is love” and i think that you should just treat everyone with respect and kindness and not look at them as gross or wrong but rather, as your unique brothers and sisters, because at the end of the day we shouldn’t be fighting for the right to love, we should just have a right to love.

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      I wish you would elaborate on your position on the issue at hand. In my reply I would like to dissect your comment and analyze your opinion on the top…

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