Defending Targets of Discrimination

Defending Targets of Discrimination

A new kind of intolerance is creeping into our country—one that shrouds its true identity and uses the law as a means to codify discrimination.

Arizona’s SB1070: Main Hub »

Longstanding values of equality and fairness are being challenged in our legislatures and courts. The legal system that was long used as a sword and a shield against bigotry is now being inverted to promote and enshrine intolerance.

We’ve seen this trend across a number of civil liberties issues including: attacks on marriage fairness for LGBT couples; efforts to deny women insurance for abortion care; people and organizations using religion as a basis to discriminate or denying services; the peddling of pseudo-science to perpetuate old fashioned gender stereotypes and sex segregation in the classroom; a nationwide effort by state legislatures to restrict access to the ballot box, anti-immigrant laws that codify racial profiling by targeting Latinos and other people of color; and discriminatory disciplinary practices that push kids of color out of school and into the criminal justice system.

Across the country, the ACLU is fighting these efforts to take us back to a time when many Americans were relegated to second-class citizenship. We want to ensure that everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability, national origin or ideology, is treated equally under the law and that the courts and legislatures are used to end, rather than codify, discrimination in the laws.


Marriage for Same Sex Couples: Marriage equality. Marriage Fairness. Gay marriage. Marriage for same-sex couples. It is called by many different names, but all of them refer to the same thing: extending the freedom to marry, along with its special legal status and the thousands of protections and obligations that opposite-sex married couples enjoy, to same-sex couples through civil marriage.

Using Religion to Discriminate: With increasing frequency, we are seeing individuals and institutions attempting to claim a right to refuse to provide services or care based on religious objections. These refusals can take many forms and the real-life impact can be devastating. Through litigation, advocacy and public education, the ACLU works to defend religious liberty and protect people of all faiths from religious discrimination.

Sex-Segregated Schools: In recent years, the number of public schools segregating their students by sex has ballooned, despite mounting evidence that single-sex programs don’t improve academic performance and instead perpetuate sex stereotypes. The ACLU Women's Rights Project works to ensure that public schools do not become sex-segregated and that girls and boys receive equal educational opportunities.

Abortion Insurance Coverage:  Most Americans with employer-based health insurance currently have coverage for abortion care. Unfortunately, politicians across the country have been busy trying to take away this coverage.

Voter Suppression: Voting rights are under attack in this country as state legislatures nationwide pass voter suppression laws under the pretext of preventing voter fraud and safeguarding election integrity. These voter suppression laws take many forms, and collectively lead to significant burdens for eligible voters trying to exercise their most fundamental constitutional right.

School to Prison Pipeline:  As a result of discriminatory disciplinary policies in schools, students of color are increasingly funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. But instead, they are isolated, punished and pushed out.

Anti-Immigrant Arizona Copycats: In 2010, Arizona notoriously enacted a discriminatory “show me your papers” law that threatens to transform it into a police state, inviting rampant racial profiling against Latinos, Asian Americans, and others presumed to be “foreign” just because of the way they look or sound. Arizona’s enactment of SB 1070 set off a number of copycat attempts in states across the country. Five states now have Arizona copycat laws on the books.

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