Reproductive Rights, LGBTI Equality Share Core Values

Florin Buhuceanu (“United to Fight Religious Extremism,” Vol. XXXVII, No. 1) is right to admonish us not to cede religious ground in public debates around LGBTI rights to those opposed to equality and dignity for LGBTI people. Those who wield the mantle of religious liberty to curtail the rights of others do not speak for all of the faithful, and they erase LGBTI people of faith. Framing human rights for all using the tenets of religious belief helps forge common ground and blunts the misuse of religion to justify discrimination.

In the US, the backlash against marriage equality includes a broad push for expanded religious exemptions for those—including public officials—who wish to avoid facilitating marriages for same-sex couples. This effort is modeled in large part on the opt-outs given to healthcare providers with religious objections to abortion and even, increasingly, contraception.

As we counter these regressive policies regarding LGBTI equality, we must ensure that reproductive rights are not left behind. The movements for reproductive rights and for LGBTI equality share the same core values—the liberty of individuals to form families when and how they choose, and the imperative to create public policies that respect those families. And so we cannot, as Buhuceanu points out, give “family values” away to our opponents either. As he says, marriage and family are indeed “responsible, value-based self-regarded relationships … regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The decision to continue or end a pregnancy is also about responsibility and the values of the woman making that decision in the context of her life, her family and, often, her faith. As we grapple with the meaning of religious liberty in our most contentious social and political debates, it is critical that at this moment—in the US and elsewhere—we leave no one behind.

JULIANNA S. GONEN
Policy Director
National Center for Lesbian Rights
Washington, DC

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