Trump’s Religious Freedom Order: A Sweeping Plan to Legalize Discrimination

Legalize DiscriminationDonald Trump speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona (earlier in 2016).
Photo: Gage Skidmore
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News reports obtained by The Investigative Fund and The Nation reveal that a leaked copy of an executive order to be signed tomorrow morning by Trump is designed to encourage discrimination against the LGBT community, all under the guise of religious liberty.

According to The Nation, the four-page leaked copy’s title “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom,” will also directly target women rights and their reproductive rights, and will punish anyone who assists the marginalized communities while rewarding those who agree to the discriminatory measures.

“Donald Trump continues his hateful attacks on the communities that comprise our nation—this time by encouraging discrimination against the LGBT community, and by the denial of reproductive health care to women, all under the guise of so-called “religious freedom,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and former Chair of the Constitution Subcommittee via a statement. “This draft order is breathtaking in its scope—encouraging discrimination in social services, healthcare and across the federal government, creating a second class of citizenship for LGBT Americans and denying women access to constitutionally protected reproductive freedom.

The order would effectively nullify all existing protections for LGBT people, reported LGBTQ Nation. Trump will not have to carry out a repeal because the new executive order would essentially supplant former President Obama’s order. The new discriminatory order, reported LGBTQ Nation from the leaked copies, would be used “to gut civil rights laws, allowing people and organizations to cite religious objections to same-sex marriage, gender identity, premarital sex, and abortion. The order will cover  ‘any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations’ ‘when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.’”

“This executive order does not increase freedom of religion; rather, it creates a license to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans, women and other groups,” said GLSEN’s Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard. “The dangerous and overly broad language of the draft executive order leaked to the public would leave basic rights at the personal discretion of others, and undermine the crucial safeguards against discrimination that have created opportunities for at-risk youth.

“In his speech today at the National Prayer Breakfast, Donald Trump stated his goal is an America where ‘all of our citizens can feel safe and secure’ and ‘our most vulnerable citizens have a path to success.’ This executive order does completely the opposite for millions of Americans.

“These are not the ideals or values our country was founded upon. We call on President Trump to live up to his promises to the LGBTQ community and protect LGBTQ youth by not broadening any religious exemptions already legally allowed to religious organizations. We are part of the American family, too.”

Freedom of Religion can’t be used to discriminate and harm others, according to Nadler’s statement.

“It has long been established that our constitution protects the free exercise of religion, but those protections do not create the right to cause harm to others,” Nadler’s statement read. “Protections for religious freedom must be shields to protect the practice of religion, not swords to enable one person to force his or her religious beliefs on others. No matter how sincerely held a religious belief may be, employers—including the federal government—must not be permitted to wield them as a means of discriminating against their employees or against those they serve.

“Mr. Trump is a bully, using religion to further the cause of anti-gay hate that has become a mainstay of the Republican Party. As a result of this order, federal employees will now be permitted to use their positions to advocate against marriage equality, against recognition of transgender individuals and for opposition to abortion. It appears that tax-exempt status would be given to organizations that advocate anti-gay, anti-trans, and anti-abortion viewpoints as approved by the executive order, but not to organizations that advocate other viewpoints.  This is an obvious violation of the First Amendment.”

To read more about the leaked copies, click here.

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