Opinion: Religious, LGBTQ rights don’t have to conflict

Illustration by Margaret Scott / Newsart

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Illustration by Margaret Scott / Newsart

Authors write that Georgia’s in a unique position to bridge divides and protect all from discrimination, even on a divisive issue.

An open letter to Georgia residents:

As citizens and leaders in the state of Georgia, we write in support of non-discrimination legislation that protects all people, including LGBTQ people, from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, while also protecting important religious rights.

No one should be denied these protections based on their sexual orientation or gender identity; and likewise religious persons and institutions should be protected in practicing their faith. We believe that we are all children of a loving God who has commanded us to love each other. We are also Americans with a long tradition of figuring out how to get along despite deep differences.

We are extremely concerned that the ongoing conflicts between religious liberty and LGBTQ rights are poisoning our civil discourse, eroding the free exercise of religion and preventing diverse people of goodwill from living together in peace and mutual respect.

LGBTQ rights and religious rights do not have to be in conflict. We believe that the state of Georgia is uniquely positioned to come together to protect all people, unify our state and help bring healing to our nation on what for too long has been a divisive issue. That may not be easy, and it will certainly require goodwill and mutual accommodation, but it can and must be done.

We hope that every level of government will apply these common values and core principles in a balanced approach where in a spirit of trust all stakeholders engage in respectful dialogue and good-faith negotiations.

We respectfully urge all Georgia residents to join in support of public policy that provides protections for LGBTQ persons as well as people and institutions of faith.

Sincerely,

Elder M. Andrew Galt IV, Area Seventy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Jeff Graham, executive director, Georgia Equality

Mary Anne Adams, ZAMI NOBLA: National Organization of Black Lesbians on Aging

Rabbi Peter Berg, The Temple

Rev. Richard Burdick, Unity North Atlanta Church

Kenyetta Chinwe, SisterSong

Rev. Bronte Colbert, Unity Athens Spiritual Center

Lee Carroll, The Open Door Community

Rev. Kathleen Deegan-Neal, North Georgia United Methodist Church

Cody Deese, Vinings Lake Church

Jamie Fergerson, Atlanta Pride Committee

Dorothy Foster, North Georgia Immigrant Justice

Rabbi Brian Glusman, Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta

Lynn TenHarmsel Green, PFLAG, Rome, Ga.

Jessica Godfrey, United Women in Faith

Rose Kantorczyk, SOJOURN: Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity

David Key, Lake Oconee Community Church

Rabbi Joshua Lesser, Attune

Rev. David Lewicki, North Decatur Presbyterian Church

Rabbi Eric Linder, Congregation Children of Israel

Rev. Dr. Simon Mainwaring, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Atlanta

Rev. Carole Maddux, Georgia Interfaith Public Policy Center

Rev. Catherine Meeks, Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing

Ann Miller, PFLAG

Rev Marsha Mitchiner, First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta

Sohayl Moshtael, Baha’is of Oconee County

Rabbi Ellen Nemhauser, Interfaith Atlanta

Rev. Dr. Joshua M. Noblitt, Saint Mark United Methodist Church

Sebastian Nix, Trans Housing Atlanta Program

Allison Padilla-Goodman, ADL (Anti-Defamation League)

Ryan Roemmerman, National Center for Civil and Human Rights LGBTQ Institute

Ambreen Sohani, Interfaith Atlanta

Sima Abadi, Maktab Tariqhat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi, (M.T.O.) School of Islamic Sufism

Parminder Singh, Guru Nanak Mission Society of Atlanta

The Rev. Sarah C. Stewart, All Saints’ Episcopal Church

Bishop Kevin Strickland, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Southeastern Synod

Duncan Teague, Abundant Love Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Rev. Bob Thompson, Compassionate Atlanta

Matt Thompson, Vinings Lake Church

Rev. Paul M. Turner, Gentle Spirit Christian Church

Connie Tuttle, Circle of Grace Community Church

Winnie Varghese, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

Graham Younger, Faith in Public Life

Rev. Kathleen Deegan-Neal

Rev. James R. Gwin

Rabbi Neil Sandler

Rabbi Rachael Bregman

Sara Toering

Rev. Nibs Stroupe

Leo Seyij Allen

Amanda Gable

Caroline Leach

Shavonne Williams

Rev. Dr. Joseph McBrayer