Is there a culture war between the LGBTQI and faith-based communities? Is the only option a zero-sum game where one side wins, and the other loses their civil or religious rights? The founders of the United States thought so highly of religious freedom they made it one of the cornerstones of the Constitution. If they were writing that document today, would that still be the case? Come to the Religion Communication Congress 2020 (RCCongress 2020) and join a lively panel discussion of LGBTQI and religious liberty advocates who will discuss this important issue and search for a common ground solution that can be fair for all Americans.

Balancing LGBTQI and Religious Freedom Rights

Given the persistent clashes between the LGBTQI communities and conservative religious communities, only a winner-takes-all outcome seems possible. But newly proposed legislation called the Fairness for All Act offers a “both-and” alternative to protect the civil rights of LGBTQI people while also protecting religious persons and organizations. In this panel, religious freedom and LGBTQI advocates will examine how the two communities can find common ground for the good of all Americans.

Melissa Reid is associate director of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. In this capacity, she has the opportunity to represent the church both within the local community and in our nation’s capital. Reid is the Executive Director of the North American Religious Liberty Association (NARLA), a member driven advocacy organization dedicated to the God-given principle of religious freedom. She is also the Associate Editor at Liberty Magazine, a Seventh-day Adventist publication that highlights developments in both domestic and international religious freedom policy, and monitors the progress of relevant legislation and judicial activity. Reid holds a B.A. in English from Andrew University, and a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University.

Dr. Stanley Carlson-Thies is the Founder and Senior Director of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance (IRFA), a division of the Center for Public Justice (CPJ). As part of this role, he convenes the Coalition to Preserve Religious Freedom, a multi-faith alliance of social-service, education, and religious freedom organizations that advocates for the religious freedom of faith-based organizations to Congress and the federal government. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Canadian think tank Cardus. He served on a task force of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and has consulted with federal departments and several states. He served with the White House Office of Faith-Based & Community Initiatives from its inception in February 2001 until mid-May 2002. Following his term in the White House, he returned to CPJ, where he was previously Director of Social Policy, as the Director of Faith-based Policy Studies. He holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Toronto.

Tim Schultz is a leading expert on religious freedom issues, with a particular focus on state policy. He is currently president of the 1st Amendment Partnership. Prior to this role, he served as State Legislative Director for the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s American Religious Freedom Program (ARFP) where he directed all of ARFP’s state policy initiatives. Mr. Schultz is widely viewed as a leading expert on religious freedom issues, with a particular focus on state policy issues. In his fifteen years of experience developing state and federal policy, Mr. Schultz has testified before Congress and more than fifteen state legislatures. Mr. Schultz is a former instructor at George Mason University and was a staffer in the Washington, D.C., office of Senator Bob Dole’s presidential campaign. He is a graduate of Kansas State University and Georgetown University Law School.

Tyler Deaton is the Senior Advisor to American Unity Fund. He works at the state and federal levels to advance nondiscrimination legislation by working with Republicans. Tyler’s first experience in the movement for LGBTQ freedom was in New Hampshire, where in 2011-2012 he helped lead the successful lobbying and electoral efforts to protect the freedom to marry in New Hampshire and preserve New Hampshire’s nondiscrimination laws. Tyler and his husband James split their time between Concord, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.

Register today to participate in workshops, panels, plenaries, and more! February 22 marks both the hotel and early bird deadlines.

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