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LGBTQ Discrimination Has No Place in America and No Place in Our Healthcare

October Newsletter
October 30, 2015
Bend the Arc

LGBTQ Discrimination has no Place in America and No Place in our HealthcareImagine going to your doctor’s office in need of urgent medical attention only to be turned away because of your physician’s faith or beliefs. Now imagine that you were turned away solely on the basis of your sexual orientation or gender identification. This is the sad reality for many members of the LGBTQ community, who are being denied medical treatment under the the guise of “religious freedom.”

However, there is now a chance to change the status quo. The Department of Health and Human Services has opened up public comments to a rule change that will extend civil rights protections to ban discrimination based on gender identity in health programs and activities.

The Department is specifically asking whether they should prohibit sexual orientation-based discrimination in the ban, and whether there needs to be a religious exemption. This religious exemption would allow medical professionals to deny service to members of the LGBTQ community based on faith or beliefs. As American Jews, it’s important for us all to state that protecting religious liberty does not mean allowing for this kind of discrimination in health care.

How will we achieve that? The comment period is open for two weeks and Bend the Arc is asking all of its supporters to take action today by flooding the Department of Health and Human Services with comments on this critical issue. We have drafted a public comment which can be submitted to the Department’s website.

As a Jewish American and as a supporter of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, I am writing in support of the Department of Health and Human Services Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities. I applaud the Department for establishing that the prohibition on sex discrimination in Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act includes discrimination based on gender identity. Additionally I urge the Department to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in the final rule. Further, I urge the department to refrain from including a religious exemption in the final rule--to include such an exemption is not only unnecessary, but could do significant harm to LGBTQ Americans and their families.

It’s critical that we, the Jewish community, come together to send a flood of comments that we support the proposed revisions, but not the inclusion of exemptions under the guise of “religious freedom." As a community we have already shown our power by stopping the spread of “religious freedom” laws on both the local and national level. In July, we worked with our allies in D.C. to help stall the Defense of First Amendment Act from moving forward, a bill that was described as a “religious freedom act on steroids.” Further, leaders in North Carolina were also able to stop similar laws by meeting with elected officials and letting them know that discrimination in the name of religious freedom will not be tolerated.

Together, we can show our support for the LGBTQ community, and encourage the Department to exclude the new political trend of using “religious freedom” to discriminate.