Barb Feige, Deputy Director of Pittsburgh's ACLU, wrote in to affirm that the proposed anti-discrimination legislation will not interfere with anyone's religious liberty.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania supports the Allegheny County ordinance as a step forward in the struggle for civil rights and equality for all people. We are also in a unique position in advocating for both religious liberty and for advancing civil rights.
Those who claim that religious organizations' right to practice their faith will be impacted by laws protecting people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation are wrong on this issue. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, the state Religious Freedom Protection Act and exceptions within the proposed ordinance itself all provide multiple layers of protection to allow religious organizations to carry out their First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.
It is an interesting vantage to defend both Fred Phelps and the County Ordinance, but one that offers us some light through the jungle of protest growing up around this ordinance. My hope is that people of faith will take the ACLU at its word, but I continue to also hope that other people of faith will step up in support of the ordinance.