LGBT Activists Pour Millions Into Attacking Religious Freedom

by Ryan Fitzgerald  •  •  July 30, 2015   

They want religious exemptions to pro-gay laws gone

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WASHINGTON, July 30, 2015 ( - Wealthy LGBT foundations are pouring millions of dollars into getting religious exemptions to pro-gay laws removed, reports Catholic News Agency (CNA).

CNA's Kevin Jones examined public grant listings and tax forms and discovered that six different organizations and funds have already put nearly five million dollars into the effort, which devotes special attention to individuals and groups that refuse to accept "gay marriage."

The six groups are: the Arcus Foundation; the Gill Foundation; the Ford Foundation; the Proteus Fund; the David Bohnett Foundation; and the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.

The Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund has given upwards of $685,000 in grants to combat religious liberty in general. That includes two grants in 2014 amounting to $150,000 toward the Pride Foundation for the purpose of "lead[ing] a project to ensure that 'religious liberty' claims do not erode gains in marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections." The next year, another $200,000 went toward the very same goal. And $125,000 was donated to a different group to "engage African American clergy in preventing 'religious liberty' claims from eroding gains in marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections." A further $60,000 went to a separate organization with the exact same aim. Finally, $50,000 was given to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation this year to help them against religious liberty claims.

The Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund likewise gave $100,000 to the Gill Foundation, which had made an earlier $100,000 grant to the ACLU Foundation for a "religious exemptions project" that opposed religious exemptions.

The Proteus Fund put no less than $825,000 into "special litigation efforts and work on use of religious exemptions to attempt to justify the undermining of full marriage" — "full marriage" being meant to include "gay marriage." Another $275,000 ended up going to an effort against a proposed religious freedom law in Oregon. A further $550,000 also went to various other projects designed to oppose religious liberty across the United States.

The David Boehnett Foundation devoted $150,000 toward Columbia Law School's Public Rights / Private Conscience Project, as coordinated by its Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, which organizes scholars against religious exemptions to LGBT-friendly laws like Indiana's infamous Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The Arcus Foundation and the Ford Foundation have together given at least $900,000 to the same Columbia Law project. Both of these foundations have also spent at least $3 million on the overall fight against religious exemptions to the ever-imposing sweep of pro-gay laws.

One LGBT activist, Tim Sweeney, who was once program director for the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, and used to be the president and CEO of the Gill Foundation, strategized with business leaders at the Out & Equal Workplace Advocates executive forum, a corporate-sponsored, pro-gay event in San Francisco earlier this year. Among the corporate sponsors were the Walt Disney Company, Wells Fargo, Deloitte, Hewlett-Packard, Intuit and media outlet Thomson Reuters.

Sweeney complained that religious freedom exemptions are "all about using 'religious liberty' as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people and others."

He attributes the absence of religious freedom exemptions in many legislatures to the work of LGBT activism, stating, "We exposed the discriminatory intention behind the Indiana and Arkansas RFRA laws, and limited some of the damage in these unnecessary and harmful measures."

He slammed religious freedom laws, yet at the same time he advised pushing a narrative that "questions the notion of an 'attack' on religious freedom."


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