This giving includes millions of dollars in grants specifically earmarked to promote limits on religious freedom. In 2016, for instance, Stryker’s Arcus Foundation gave the ACLU a $150,000 grant to implement “a national coordinated media and public-education campaign to beat back religious exemptions at federal and state levels,” the foundation website said.
Stryker’s giving to religious groups also backs groups which undermine Christian sexual morals. Arcus grants have gone to Catholics for Choice, which rejects Catholic teaching on abortion, and the Equally Blessed Coalition of groups like Dignity USA, Call to Action and New Ways Ministry, which engage in LGBT advocacy and reject Catholic teaching on sexual morality and the sacraments. Some of the groups back ordination of women and think same-sex unions should be recognized as sacramental.
The Arcus Foundation funded a 2012 Equally Blessed report criticizing the Knights of Columbus’ support for marriage as a union of one man and one woman. A 2014 grant sought to “support pro-LGBT faith advocates to influence and counter the narrative of the Catholic Church” in relation to the Synod on the Family and World Youth Day. Another grant sought to promote advocacy “for LGBTQ acceptance and for an end to harmful religious exemption policies within Catholic communities.”
The ACLU said Stryker and Randjelovic’s $15 million gift could help it further change the United States.
“We will use Jon and Slo’s generosity to change the law and create a culture where discrimination against LGBTQ people is unfathomable. They understand that as long as LGBTQ people can be used as fodder for political attacks...that our entire community will be vulnerable to discrimination,” said James Esseks, director of the newly renamed LGBTQ & HIV Project.
“We need the resources to fight on all fronts — in the states and at the federal level, in courts and in communities, and that’s what Jon and Slo’s generosity will allow us to do,” Esseks said.
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ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said that the two men have been “pioneering supporters of our LGBTQ rights work for years.”
“Alongside scores of funders and organizations as well as millions of activists and everyday LGBTQ people, Jon and Slo helped build the infrastructure that made marriage equality the law of the land, but they also understood that the fight for LGBTQ equality did not end there,” he said.
According to Romero, the two donors attended U.S. Supreme Court hearings to support Aimee Stephens, a transgender employee of a funeral home that sought to challenge the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Federal officials backed Stephens’ claims to have been wrongly fired by the funeral home for Stephens’ plans to dress as a woman.