As the nation prepares to for President-elect Trump to take office, it’s more necessary than ever journalists have a means to effectively combat aggressive actions against civil liberties that stand to put women, in particular, at risk. Rewire has begun preparations with the launch of a new tool tracking so-called “religious freedom” laws which legalize discrimination against women and LGBT folks.
Americans are denied basic services everyday on religious grounds—in healthcare clinics, high school classrooms and even bakeries. Over 20 states currently have laws in place that permit a private employer to deny services to employees or customers based upon religious objections—including Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law by Vice President-Elect Mike Pence in March 2015. Rewire has launched a tracker that will enable journalists, advocates and researchers to learn about these laws and their effects.
When the Supreme Court handed down its 5-4 Hobby Lobby decision two years ago, they bolstered claims that “religious freedom” was a valid reason for exemption from certain laws—in that case, from the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate. Now, according to the Center for American progress, more than 90 percent of all U.S. based businesses employing 52 percent of the country’s workforce have the option of exempting themselves from one of the ACA’s strongest provisions boosting women’s healthcare. Similar claims of “religious freedom” have also opened the floodgates for recent legislation allowing business owners to refuse service to LGBT people.
Rewire’s tracker allows users to study in depth the various kinds of laws put forth to purportedly protect religious freedom which actually just create room for discrimination. Spotlighting faith-based legislation on topics ranging from LGBT rights to abortion, their interactive map paints a comprehensive picture of the impact these laws have on their states and various communities across the country.
As we mobilize for the fight ahead, we’ll need to know what we’re up against. Rewire‘s tracker exposes the latest right-wing strategy to challenge the feminist agenda—and gives us the knowledge and insight we need to fight back.