Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Bend the Arc engages people and communities throughout the United States in creating economic opportunity and promoting social justice. We are building a national movement that pursues justice as a core expression of Jewish tradition. We invest to revitalize neighborhoods, organize in communities across lines of race and faith, and train Jewish and interfaith social justice leaders. Join us.
New Campaign Campaigns
Faith Leaders to President Trump: Don’t Use Religion to DiscriminateThe religious freedom upon which our nation was founded has allowed our country’s diverse religious landscape to flourish. The draft executive order flies in the face of that rich diversity by enshrining one religious perspective--on marriage, gender identity, health care, and the role of houses of worship in partisan politics--into law, above all others. This is neither what religious freedom means in the eyes of the law, nor what religion itself means to millions of Americans of faith. The religious freedom of individuals and organizations, including that of clergy and houses of worship, is already protected by the First Amendment and federal law. Additionally, we as clergy and faith leaders, stand by the right of anyone to hold beliefs that may differ from our own. But for many of us, supporting LGBTQ individuals and families is a principle of our faith, and that needs to be respected as well. Furthermore, freedom of religion guarantees us the right to hold any belief we choose and to act on our religious beliefs, but it does not allow us to harm others in the name of those beliefs. We are appalled by the widespread discrimination that this draft order would unleash across all areas of life--including in some cases with taxpayer dollars--on our congregants, our neighbors, our families, so many Americans we may never personally know, and indeed even many of us personally. As people of deep faith committed to a country that supports robust religious expression, and in the spirit of equality and justice, we urge you to return to the true meaning of religious freedom. We must never allow this precious freedom to be used to discriminate against broad swaths of our nation, including LGBTQ people, women, and children in foster care. We urge you to refrain from issuing this executive order or any substantively similar policies on their own, or as amendments to existing executive orders. Sincerely, Rev. Jennifer Butler, CEO, Faith in Public Life, Washington, D.C. Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Director, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Washington, D.C.338 of 400 SignaturesCreated by Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block
Tell the Obama Administration to Prohibit LGBTQ Discrimination in Foster CareFor the more than 400,000 children in foster care across our nation, this action would have an enormous, life-changing impact. The teachings of our respective faiths may diverge on issues of theology and practice, but all speak clearly of our duty to protect the stranger, the orphan and the widow: the most vulnerable members of our society. We are called to do all we can to ensure children grow up with loving, supportive families that will set them on the path toward happy and healthy adulthood. Removing the barriers that currently prevent LGBT adults from becoming parents for these children has the potential to bring an estimated two million potential parents forward to provide loving, permanent homes. The primary reason hundreds of thousands of children remain in, or age out of, the foster care system is a lack of qualified homes. This is a moral travesty. This Administration has made historic progress in the advancement of LGBT rights across the country and your Department has been at the forefront of these changes. Yet, if action is not taken before the end of the Administration to prohibit discrimination in adoption and foster care, a critical piece of this work will remain woefully unfinished. It is crucial that the Obama Administration takes decisive action to ensure that otherwise qualified adoptive and foster parents are not turned away simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, and that LGBT and gender non-conforming youth in care do not face discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. A foundational principle of our child welfare services is the best interest of the child. We firmly believe that ensuring qualified parents are not turned away, simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, in addition to protecting youth themselves, is one of the most important steps you can take to meet the needs of children in foster care. Further, we do not believe there should be any exemption to permit religiously affiliated child welfare providers to discriminate against LGBT youth and prospective parents while conducting public foster care and adoption placements and service delivery with significant sums of taxpayer dollars. Such an exemption would undermine this foundational principle by prioritizing the provider’s religious beliefs over the best interests of the children they contract with the government to serve, while also sanctioning discrimination with public dollars. Although the primary responsibility of child welfare agencies and their contractors is to meet a child’s need for safety, permanency and well-being, many LGBT youth face physical threat, harassment, rejection and discrimination from state-funded providers. Due largely to family rejection, LGBT youth are over-represented in child welfare systems compared to their non- LGBT peers, are placed in group homes and residential facilities at higher rates, and often exit to homelessness and increased risk of commercial sexual exploitation. While some states offer explicit protections for LGBT youth, most do not, and an LGBT youth’s safety, well-being, and fair treatment depends largely on a luck of the draw. This month is the last National Foster Care Month of the Obama Administration. We hope you will take this opportunity to use your authority as Secretary to put the needs of children first by issuing guidance ending discrimination against potential adoptive and foster parents and children in foster care based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, without exceptions.4,154 of 5,000 SignaturesCreated by Stosh Cotler
Tell Congress Religious Liberty Doesn't Mean LGBT DiscriminationThe religious liberty upon which our nation was founded has allowed our country’s diverse religious landscape to flourish. Recently, however, what we have seen promoted as defending religious liberty too often reflects one particular religious perspective that does not at all respect that diversity of faith and belief, or the intent of our Founders. We believe that the First Amendment Defense Act does not respect the spirit of religious liberty—nor does it reflect fundamental values of treating all people with fairness and equality—and we therefore strongly oppose this legislation. Further, though people of faith are not a monolith and all are not in agreement on whether their faith sanctions LGBT relationships, we cannot in good conscience support legislation that favors one religious viewpoint over another and in the process discriminates against LGBT people, single mothers and unmarried couples. The religious freedom of individuals and organizations, including clergy and houses of worship, who object to same-sex marriage are already protected by the First Amendment and federal law—and we, as clergy and faith leaders, continue to stand by the right of others to hold beliefs that may differ from our own while recognizing that for many of us, supporting LGBT individuals and families is a principle of our faith. Rather than protecting the First Amendment, this legislation actually undermines true religious liberty. The religious liberty on which our nation was founded guarantees us the freedom to hold any belief we choose and the right to act on our religious beliefs — but it does not allow us to harm or discriminate against others or to infringe on the religious beliefs of others. By opening the door to unprecedented taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers and unmarried couples, this legislation does nothing to protect our rights as people of diverse faith traditions and it has the potential to do considerable harm in the name of religion. For example, were this bill to become law it would: • allow an organization to accept federal funds to run a homeless shelter or drug treatment program but then turn away from that program LGBT people or anyone who has a sexual relationship outside of marriage; • allow hospitals to refuse dying patients visitation from their spouse or designated support person; and • permit a government employee to deny services they have a duty to provide, including Veterans or Social Security benefits to a surviving member of a same-sex couple. We are also troubled that this bill is so broad it could even prevent the federal government from enforcing longstanding laws designed to combat discrimination and promote equality. For example, it would let commercial landlords violate fair housing laws by refusing housing to a single mother based on the landlord’s religious beliefs and allow businesses to violate family medical leave laws by refusing to let a gay or lesbian employee care for a sick spouse. As people of deep faith committed to a country that supports diverse, robust, and healthy religious expression and in the spirit of equality and justice, we urge you to oppose the First Amendment Defense Act.3,790 of 4,000 SignaturesCreated by Stosh Cotler