American atheists and other nonbelievers have long acknowledged the debt they owe in their fight for equality to the gay and lesbian community, which began its struggle for the same in the 1960s (and in turn acknowledged its debt to African-Americans).

In her new book “Queer Disbelief: Why LGBTQ Equality Is an Atheist Issue,” queer activist and atheist Camille Beredjick calls for an alliance between those who do not believe in God and those who identify as LGBTQ based on their mutual goals of respect and acceptance.

She spoke with Religion News Service about why these two groups have more in common than they generally acknowledge and how they can work together. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

This book came out of a long, professional relationship between myself and Hemant Mehta, who writes The Friendly Atheist blog. We started to see religious arguments against the movement for transgender rights and it seemed like a good time to talk about how these two groups — atheists and the LGBTQ community — receive outcry from organized religion in a very intense way and to talk about how they can best be allied and what’s at stake when we don’t work together to address our common goals.

When we look at data on the characteristics of these two communities we see there is a ton of overlap between LGBTQ and atheists. Close to half of LGBTQ persons say they are nonbelievers, so from the beginning it is crucial to recognize we are never talking about one community in an isolated way.

Beyond that, so many of the most significant issues facing LGBTQ people can affect atheists in some way, like violating the principles many atheists hold dear. When we see laws that seek to give business owners the right to discriminate against LGBTQ customers based on their religious beliefs, that’s state-sanctioned privileging of one belief system over another. When religious schools that receive taxpayer money can fire LGBTQ people, that’s an infringement of the separation of church and state. And in both cases, the laws that target LGBTQ people could also be used against atheists.

One example I have in the book is of a doctor who denied health care to a baby because the baby had two moms. That is the kind of thing atheists should be furious about because it could be an attack on them, too.

Read the full story at Religion News Service