Humanists push for Do No Harm law in over 20 states in one day
“Can we count on your office to support the Do No Harm law this Congress?” “
This question (or a variation of it) was asked 50 times in July, as humanists across the country met with their members of Congress at the American Humanist Association’s biggest Lobby Day to date. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held virtually, which made it even more accessible to our members who cannot make it to Washington, DC for a more traditional lobby day. .
Lobby Day by the numbers: 67 lawyers met with 50 congressional offices from 21 states (including DC).
But these numbers, while impressive, do not accurately reflect the impact AHA supporters have had. Humanists have passionately witnessed the harm religious discrimination has on their transgender neighbors and friends. They talked about strategy with members of Congress: what do we need to do to get this bill passed? What is the next step ? And how can we help in the district?
The AHA staff could not have achieved this feat alone. Our partners from American Atheists, the Secular Coalition for America, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation graciously offered their energy, time and expertise to help us.
But more importantly, the AHA could not have reached this elected number without humanist voters, who came from across the country, and rallied to meet their members of Congress to defend humanist values. Many were old hats at this, but most were first-time lawyers.
As a lobbyist in Washington, I have become adept at building coalitions, digging into policies, and building relationships with policy makers. But, aside from speaking with my own congressman (thanks to Free Thought Congressman Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton), I will always be at least a little short of effectively conveying what local voters are feeling on a question.
This is why lobby days are so important, and why they would be meaningless without AHA supporters. Humanist voters are the best advocates when it comes to sharing the impact of policies on the lives of the people our elected officials represent.
The bill we lobbied, the Do No Harm Law, would certainly have a positive impact on the lives of humanists.
In the years since the enactment of the Restoration of Religious Freedom Act (RFRA), we have seen individuals and organizations militarize the law for their own benefit, using religion as a sword against others rather than a shield as expected. The law was used by the former president to exempt federally funded foster placement agencies from federal regulations prohibiting discrimination, to allow for-profit companies not to provide employees with coverage. insurance that includes contraception, to justify blatant wage discrimination against female employees, and much more. .
The solution is the Do No Harm law. The bill, which already has more than 125 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, would finally ensure that federal protections against discrimination do not play the second fiddle to religion. This crucial bill would restore the RFRA to its original intent and be a perfect signal that no one in this country can use their religious beliefs to circumvent long-established civil rights protections in employment, health care, service. audiences, etc.
To those who joined us: thank you very much for making this day such a success and, above all, for being incredible defenders of humanist values. And to our readers who were unable to attend this year: You can always help us build on our momentum by contacting your Congressional offices through our headquarters and urging them to support the Do No Harm Act and to invite them to join the free thought of Congress. Caucus.
Tags: AHA Annual Conference, Do No Harm