Congresswoman Angie Antonelli, the main character of my new book, Love Is Enough, asked to post a series of daily posts on this blog leading up to Election Day in the US on Tuesday, November 4.   And, really, how could I refuse her?

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Hi, it’s me, Angie, again. Only two more days until Election Day and today we’re going to talk about a particularly devious tactic that the opponents of LGBT equality and women’s rights have been using to bend the arc of history that Martin Luther King spoke about away from its inevitable route toward justice. While they refer to this tactic as “religious liberty” or “religious freedom,” it is, in actuality, a back door plan to greatly weaken the hard fought for rights and freedoms we now enjoy.

Here are some examples of what they are doing.

While every advocate will tell you that the right of same-sex couples to marry does not mean that clergy are now required to officiate their wedding ceremonies, our opponents not only insist that marriage equality infringes on the religious freedom of clergy, but they also insist that anyone with a “sincerely held religious belief”—including florists, caterers, the owners of events spaces, or bakers—should be free to deny service to same-sex couples. If they are successful, can their next campaign to keep us out of restaurants and hotels be very far behind?

In addition, our opponents assert that pharmacists with those same religious beliefs should be able to refuse to sell the morning after pill to women.

And a student pursuing her graduate degree in counseling should be free to refuse to see a gay client.

Getting the picture?

Unfortunately, just like I mentioned yesterday when I wrote about voting rights, all of this has been further complicated by a Supreme Court decision. This one held that the crafts chain, Hobby Lobby, had a right to refuse to follow the requirement of the Affordable Care Act that an employer-sponsored health insurance policy cover contraception.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favor of sincerely held religious beliefs. I was raised Catholic and I still attend mass. And while the hierarchy of the Church and I don’t always agree (though I’m hopeful about the new Pope), I do gain strength and peace from my faith. I talk about this a lot with my best friend, Robin Greene, who is Jewish. We both feel proud of the long history of social justice associated with each of our faiths, even though at times there are things make us cringe.

So I come to this issue, not from a place of hostility toward people of faith or religion as a whole, but from the belief that religion should always be on the side of justice and should never sow the seeds of division among people.

I am also a firm believer in separation of church and state following the precepts set forth by our country’s founders. It was Thomas Jefferson himself who first spoke of a wall separating church and state, stating that “the interests of society require the observation of those moral precepts only in which all religions agree (for all forbid us to steal, murder, plunder, or bear false witness), and that we should not intermeddle with the particular dogmas in which all religions differ, and which are totally unconnected with morality.”

In the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, Congress has become a battleground on this issue and so we must ensure that our representatives in office follow the principles of Jefferson and his colleagues and not those of the religious right wing.

Our opponents know they have lost the fight on marriage equality and on women’s rights. So in a desperate attempt to whittle away at our freedoms, they have created this new argument about religious freedom. One important way to make sure they do not prevail is to exercise our right to vote on Tuesday, November 4th.

To learn more about Angie Antonelli and the ups and downs of her love life, read Love Is Enough, available here and here.

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