Catholics for Choice and its partner organizations are working to "stand strong against the bishops and their allies," who threaten "true religious freedom" with their "false cries of religious liberty," she said.
Bishop Tonyia Rawls, a lesbian and minister at the Freedom Center for Social Justice in Charlotte, also spoke at the religious freedom discussion. Rawls emphasized the importance of fighting for the "right to choose" and of supporting efforts to redefine marriage.
Rev. Harry Knox, president and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, said that "religious liberty is a very complex subject" but agreed that such freedom does not extend to employers who wish to follow the tenets of their faith in the health coverage they offer.
Knox, a homosexual advocate who was appointed by President Obama to the President's Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said that he worked in this role to ensure that faith-based organizations using tax money to serve those in need would not be permitted to do so in rooms with religious symbols.
People of different faiths or no faith could be "harmed" by such an environment, he said, and religious organizations such as hospitals and food banks should therefore have to cover or remove crucifixes, religious pictures and other faith symbols to make the room "neutral."
On the topic of abortion, Knox emphasized the importance of "empowering the person that you're counseling" and said that the role of a pastor is largely "to be quiet" and let individuals make their own decisions.
No individual or institution can tell other people "what is right for them," he said, adding that these moral discussions are "fundamentally a matter of perspective."
For the Church to suggest that its moral teaching is based in objective and unchanging truth is "the worst kind of hubris" and displeases God, he argued.
The faithful must fight against religious groups seeking to "impose their set of values on everybody else," Knox stressed, because "when that happens, people get hurt."