Pizza & Politics: Reconciling LGBTQ+ Rights and Religious Freedom

This week’s P&P saw another packed house as students, faculty and staff filled every seat in the Leavitt Center to discuss LGBTQ+ rights and religious freedom.

Both LGBTQ+ and religious rights are protected under the constitution. LGBTQ+ rights are protected under the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment while religious freedoms are protected under the First Amendment. This discussion focused on discussing difficulties in ensuring and protecting LGBTQ+ rights while also ensuring and protecting religious freedom rights.

The first question asked whether or not religious freedoms should be limited to private or personal lives? The question has its roots in recent events where business owners have cited their religious beliefs as justification for denying service or goods to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Several students felt strongly that people should have the right to express their religion publicly and openly, stating that limiting those expressions is what the First Amendment was intended to prevent.

The question was then shifted to whether or not those protections should be applied to business owners and people in the commercial sphere, and should business owners be allowed to choose who they provide goods or services to based on the identity of the customer.

Some students felt that regardless of policy, both sides should be held to the same standards. Meaning that if a business denies service to a customer based on their status as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, members of the LBGTQ+ would also have the right to deny service to someone of a different identity, whether it be religion or another identifying factor or vice versa.

Others felt that all kinds of discrimination are wrong and that identity or religious belief or affiliation or other identifying factors should not be grounds for discrimination.

The question was then asked in the government was dealing with LGBTQ+ discrimination differently than others types of discrimination. Some students felt that discrimination exists in all areas, whether it be religion, race, gender, sexuality etc. and expressed hope for increased intersectionality between all groups. Others felt that the LGBTQ+ movement is in its early stages and while it is getting better, there is still a lot of discrimination to overcome.

The final question was whether or not a compromise could be reached. It was near consensus that it was possible and critical that a compromise is reached. Most parties expressed the want for tolerance on either side of the issue in hope of eliminating the gap between the two communities.

As with all Pizza & Politics, the goal is to have an educational discussion and hopefully leave with a better understanding of the topic discussed.

Pizza & Politics is held every Wednesday at noon in the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service located in the Sharwan Smith Student Center.  

Story By
Lily Shurtleff 

Photo By
Haleigh Clemens