A super-majority of Americans support a federal law banning anti-LGBTQ housing and employment discrimination — but Gregory T. Angelo, the head of the Log Cabin Republicans up until November 2018, is not one of those Americans.
"Don’t be fooled by the name: The Equality Act is legislation that would compromise American civil rights and religious liberty as we know it," Angelo writes. "All reasonable Americans, especially gay Americans who support pluralism and tolerance, should oppose it."
Filled with inaccuracies, the commentary declares that the Equality Act "includes next to no exemptions for religious liberty." In reality, churches would remain free to limit rentals of their property to members, and clergy members would not be required to participate in any ceremonies that go against their beliefs.
Angelo also warns that evangelical churches would have their nonprofit status stripped because of the Equality Act, and asserts that private businesses that refuse to serve LGBTQ customers would be forced to close their doors. In states and municipalities where anti-LGBTQ discrimination is already banned, religiously affiliated colleges have not lost their nonprofit status, nor has there been a large-scale closure of Christian-run businesses.
Angelo then uses the Equality Act to drive a wedge between LGBTQ people and African-Americans, alleging that the venerable NAACP doesn't support the bill because it would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include protections for LGBTQ Americans. But days after Angelo made this dramatic claim, the NAACP announced it did, in fact, support the Equality Act. No correction to the text has been made as of Thursday evening.
Now the Liberty Counsel — a conservative group so rabidly anti-LGBTQ that the Southern Poverty Law Center refers to it as a "hate group" — is using Angelo's words in lobbying and fundraising emails to its followers. One email blast is titled "LGBT leader warns 'Don't fall for the Equality Act.'"
"Angelo is 100% correct on the dangers of the 'Equality Act,'" the email reads, before encouraging followers to flood their congressional representatives with message denouncing the pro-LGBTQ bill. The anti-LGBTQ group even has a pre-written letter for people to fax or mail to their representatives in Congress. The pre-made letter name-checks the "LGBT agenda" and claims the Equality Act "targets churches with an LGBT wrecking ball"; it also asks for money.
The Equality Act was recently introduced in the House of Representatives, backed by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and in the Senate. It's not clear if there are enough votes in the Republican-controlled Senate to move the bill to President Trump's desk — or whether he'll sign it. It's also unknown if the Log Cabin Republicans support the bill; emails inquiring about the policy position of LCR's current executive director, Jeri Ann Henry, did not receive responses.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Angelo believed priests would be forced to marry same-sex couples and churches would be forced to host same-sex weddings.