Amanda Scott is a member of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s Youth Advisory Council, and like many young activists, she volunteers with multiple organizations.
Amanda’s work as a Planned Parenthood clinic escort coalesces with her work at Americans United. Both organizations are working to protect women’s access to healthcare from the Religious Right’s many attempts to dismantle it.
Think of a bill, and the people who pass it, and you likely imagine the U.S. Congress. Our federal legislative body occupies significant media space and not without reason; it wields significant influence. It can respond to executive and judicial actions and shapes our political future.
But state legislatures are arguably as important as their federal equivalent. Many are also dominated by a conservative wing of the Republican Party that frequently promotes the Religious Right’s priorities. That’s reflected by a spate of recent legislation.
Dozens of Christian schools have sought – and many have received – waivers from the federal government so that they are able to discriminate against LGBT students and staff without affecting their tax funding.
Sixty schools have already sought from the Obama administration exemptions from Title IX, a provision in a 1972 education law that states that educational programs may not discriminate on the basis of sex if they receive federal aid.
Kentucky marriage licenses will no longer require signatures from county clerks thanks to an executive order from the state’s new governor. Matt Bevin (R), who took office in December, said his order was intended to “ensure that the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians are honored.”
As state legislatures gather across the country to start their 2016 legislative sessions, Americans United’s Protect Thy Neighbor (PTN) project is gearing up to monitor and fight legislation that would allow individuals, businesses and government employees to harm others in the name of religion.
Political allies of the Religious Right, like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), are trying to convince the American public that the federal government wants to force nuns to buy birth control.
“You know, every American should know about the Little Sisters of the Poor,” Cruz said during an address at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., in 2014. “You want to talk about values? Right now the federal government is suing the Little Sisters of the Poor to try to force Catholic nuns to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.”