A conservative’s faith argument for supporting LGBTQ rights
As a parent, I often look to the lessons and values of my faith in teaching my daughters to be kind, respectful and welcoming to others, just as they would want to be treated. Most often referred to as the golden rule, this principle may be simple in nature, but it’s one that we can continue to learn from when examining one of the most critical issues currently facing our country: Ending widespread discrimination against LGBTQ Americans.
Our nation is both exceptional and unique because of our citizens’ diverse backgrounds and experiences. In few places is this more evident than in South Florida. While our country has made advances in recognizing those differences and combating harassment against the LGBTQ community, the fact remains that far too many LGBTQ Americans are still denied basic opportunities because of who they are.
The present patchwork of state and local nondiscrimination laws hamstrings the business community and flies in the face of religious tenets and traditions which we value as conservatives. Supporting fundamental protections for all Americans is important to people of faith because LGBTQ Americans are our friends, neighbors, family members and coworkers. When it comes to being able to earn a living, having a place to live, or accessing a business or government office, LGBTQ people should be treated like everyone else. Excluding people from civil protections based on who they are or whom they love hurts us all. That is why a federal solution is urgently necessary.
It’s also clear that expanding nondiscrimination protections would exemplify the Christian values of living in peace with your neighbor and protecting many of the most vulnerable in our society. The Public Religion Research Institute found that more than 60 percent of Americans of faith support nondiscrimination laws. These figures include 81 percent of Hispanic Catholics. We support these protections because of the teachings of our faith, not despite them.
As a member of the Conservatives Against Discrimination Leadership Council, I’m working alongside a group of committed, commonsense-minded conservatives to encourage leaders in Congress to pass nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans into law. Passage of a bill such as the Equality Act through Congress would ensure that no one can be turned away from a homeless shelter, denied a meal at a food bank, or refused disaster relief simply because of who they are.
It wasn’t long ago when Democrats and Republicans united to confront economic hardship by delivering much-needed financial relief to the hardworking American families and small businesses that were deeply impacted by the current once-in-a-century pandemic. Even in times of gridlock, I’ve witnessed how legislators from different political circles have found a path forward to deliver meaningful results for their constituents, and I believe this issue is no different. I’m hopeful my former colleagues on both sides of the aisle rise to the challenge of the present moment and make certain that freedom and opportunity are available for all Americans, regardless of their gender or whom they love.
As a conservative, I view our faith traditions and values as both central to my purpose and critical to the foundation of a society that is open, welcoming and just. I encourage Republican policymakers to recognize this fact and join together with the majority of Americans in publicly supporting legislation that prohibits LGBTQ discrimination in all 50 states.
Bipartisan passage of federal protections for LGBTQ people is pro-family, pro-business and reflective of the foundational tenets of faith and the grand experiment of our Republic.
Carlos Curbelo is a former Republican U.S. representative for Florida’s 26th congressional district.
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