When we talk about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all, there should be no ambiguity in what the word "all" means.
That word means that all people — people of all races, genders, religious backgrounds, sexual orientations — are entitled to lead lives in which they can take pride in their work, fall in love, raise a family if they choose, enjoy friendship and community, and live as authentically as possible.
That’s why I’m counting on the Supreme Court to affirm that everyone, including LGBTQ people, should be able to work hard and support themselves and their families without fear of harassment or discrimination at work.
On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court will hear three cases about LGBTQ employment discrimination that will determine if federal law protects people from discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The stakes could not be higher.
We fail to protect vulnerable people
When we marginalize and disenfranchise people because of who they are or who they love, we deprive them of their life, their liberty and their pursuit of happiness.
Too often in too many states, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face discrimination or mistreatment without state or federal laws explicitly protecting them. Our failure to protect some of our most vulnerable, people with a long history of facing oppression and misunderstanding, runs counter to our core values as Americans.
That failure also runs counter to my values as a Christian. As the founder and chief executive presbyter of New Journey Ministries, I am called to speak out and spread the word about issues that are important to me, my congregation and our country.
My calling to advocate for others, as well as my commitment to inclusion, have been central to the very premise of my ministry for more than 30 years. I believe all people must love others unconditionally. I believe we are to embrace our immense diversity. I believe we are to welcome all humanity.
Freedom of religion, freedom from bias
Let me be clear: We can all agree that freedom of religion is fundamentally important. It has been a cornerstone of our democracy since our nation’s founding. But no one’s faith gives them the right to discriminate.
No matter how the Supreme Court rules, we have more work to do to ensure we realize America’s promise of liberty and freedom for all Americans. We must always strive to build welcoming and affirming spaces.
That includes our places of worship — but it also means our places of work, our local communities and our governments. One critical way that we can make these spaces more welcoming is by establishing express and enduring nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, here in Florida and nationwide.
Rev. Joe Parramore is the founder and chief executive presbyter of New Journey Ministries in Quincy, Florida, and member of Faith in Public Life Florida Leadership Council. This column first appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat.
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Supreme Court should rule against gay, transgender job discrimination