GLAAD and over 40 organizations call for fair and accurate reporting on religious exemptions in advance of Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case

November 30, 2017

This is not about ‘religious freedom’ or ‘religious liberty,’ the accurate term is ‘religious exemptions’

NEW YORK – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, and over 40 other concerned organizations yesterday sent an open letter to the media, including  the Presidents and Editors-In-Chiefs at CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, AP, Washington Post, and Reuters, calling for fair and accurate reporting on religious exemptions. On December 5, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission – a case about whether a business has a legal right, based on religious beliefs, to be exempt from existing nondiscrimination laws and deny service to fellow Americans simply because of who they are. 

"Religious freedom is paramount to our country and that’s why it is already protected by the First Amendment. However, media continues to inaccurately use terminology such as “religious freedom” or “religious liberty” to refer to what are actually “religious exemptions” that discriminate against women, LGBTQ people, single parents, people of color, and many more," said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. “The upcoming Supreme Court case, recent federal guidance from the DOJ about this issue, and related legislation is not only factually inaccurate and a disservice to the public, but a direct result of anti-LGBTQ organizations pushing this clever and biased branding. Media have a responsibility to use neutral and accurate terms in speaking about this critical issue.”  
copy of the letter is available here. A full list of organizations calling for accurate coverage follows:
Ad'ullam Church
Advocates for Youth
Alaskans Together For Equality
Basic Rights Oregon
Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Color of Change
Equality Alabama
Equality Arizona
Equality California
Equality Federation
Equality Federation
Equality Florida
Equality New Mexico
Equality North Carolina
Equality Pennsylvania
Equality South Dakota
Equality Texas
Equality Virginia
Family Equality Council
FreeState Justice
Georgia Equality
Keep Birth Control Copay Free
Mazzoni Center
Ms. Foundation for Women
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National LGBTQ Task Force
One Colorado
OutFront Minnesota
Pillars Fund
Planned Parenthood
PROMO Missouri
Southern Arizona Gender Alliance, Inc.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
The Trevor Project
Transgender Law Center
Whitman-Walker Health
Women’s Equality Center
GLAAD has been leading the charge to ask journalists to frame the national discussion in a fair and accurate way, developing a tip sheet for journalists reporting on religious exemptions, court cases, federal guidance, and legislation.