National Association of Social Workers chapters are responding to a new law in Indiana and a proposed bill in California that would discriminate against people from the LGBT community.
Public outcry over these laws has already prompted change, with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday approving changes to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act so businesses cannot discriminate against gays and lesbians on religious grounds. However, gay rights organizations say there is still not a law in Indiana that explicitly stops businesses from discriminating against customers who are from the LGBT community.
Here are statements recently released by NASW chapters:
Statement from NASW California Chapter on the Proposed Anti-Gay Ballot Initiative
NASW finds the initiative process flawed in California to allow an inflammatory hate speech initiative proposal to be accepted for the petition process and supports Attorney General Kamala Harris’ efforts to get the court to reject this unconstitutional measure.
While there are those that argue this is free speech allowed under the constitution, it is also hate speech and could incite violence against the LGBT community. As such, it is no longer free speech and should be barred.
While there is no possibility that this proposed initiative could garner sufficient signatures to make it on the California ballot, the mere idea that it could incite violence and still be allowed is repugnant. To allow it to proceed is reprehensible.
We hope California policymakers find a way to reform the initiative process to bar senseless hate mongering to enter into a policymaking arena such the initiative process.
Statement from NASW New York City Chapter’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Committee:
In Response to Initiatives that Violate Basic Human Rights
April 2, 2015
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Committee of the National Association of Social Workers – New York City Chapter is horrified and disappointed by the recent discriminatory actions in both California and Indiana.
Sodomite Suppression Act
On February 26, 2015, a Southern California Lawyer filed an initiative called the Sodomite Suppression Act. This Act would allow for gays and lesbians “to be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”
Religious Freedom Restoration Act
Last week, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It basically states that no government action can violate the sincerely held religious belief of any citizen without a compelling state interest. The problem is that there are no protections for LGBT people against discrimination in Indiana. A business owner can deny service to an LGBT person if they feel that serving that person would violate their religious beliefs.
Violations of Basic Human Rights
The LGBT Committee stands against these outrageous actions that amount to human rights violations.
Regardless of whether these proposals are implemented, they reflect a trend across the country to deny members of the LGBT community basic human rights. We refuse to allow this nation to turn back the hands of time and deny the LGBT community the respect and dignity every American citizen deserves.
We demand social justice in California, Indiana and across the United States and call upon all who are appalled by these measures to join in protest and speaking out. We must not be silent.
Scott Kramer, chair of the NASW New York City Chapter LGBT Committee
Sandra Bernabei, president of the NASW New York City Chapter Board of Directors
Robert Schachter, executive director NASW New York City Chapter
The National Association of Social Workers supports equal rights for all, including members of the LGBT community. To learn more visit NASW’s Diversity and Equity website.