As New Reports Emerge on Potential Anti-LGBT Order, Trump Should Remember Pledge to LGBT Americans

By Adam Polaski • May 2, 2017 • 4:54 pm

Today Politico reported that, according to “two senior administration officials,” President Donald Trump is prepared to sign a broad executive order that could have serious ramifications for the LGBT community. The report details that Trump will sign an order on Thursday, the National Day of Prayer.

Politico reports:

“The original draft order, which would have established broad exemptions for people and groups to claim religious objections under virtually any circumstance, was leaked to The Nation on Feb. 1 … The new draft is being tightly held, but one influential conservative who saw the text said it hasn’t been dialed back much—if at all—since the February leak. “The language is very, very strong,” the source said.”

These reports are troubling – the President has pledged that he would not take executive action to discriminate against LGBT people. In January, following reports that he would roll back existing non-discrimination protections for LGBT federal contractors and public employees, the administration announced it has decided to be “respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights” by maintaining those protections.

Of course, following that, the Trump Administration revoked crucial guidance for public school on how to respect and uphold the dignity of transgender students, and a quiet executive order lessened the impact of existing non-discrimination protections at the federal level.

A broad majority of Americans reject using religion as an excuse for discrimination. According to a recent PRRI poll:

  • 70% of Americans support broad nondiscrimination laws.
  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans oppose allowing small business owners in their state to refuse to provide products or services to gay or lesbian people if doing so violates their religious beliefs.
  • People of faith broadly oppose laws allowing people to cite religious beliefs as an excuse for discrimination: Almost every religious group – from white mainline Protestants to Catholics to black Protestants to non-Christians – strongly opposed laws like these.

This proposed executive order would continue and amplify discrimination more than ever. The draft of the order, leaked in February, was extremely broad. Among the terrible things it would have allowed for (note that this was from the draft leaked in February – the latest version of this so-called “religious liberty” executive order is not available):

  • LGBT people who work for a federal contractor could be fired from a job simply because their employer disapproves of them.
  • A doctor could refuse to provide medical care to an LGBT person, simply by citing their religious beliefs.
  • A pharmacist could refuse to refill a prescription for someone living with HIV/AIDS.
  • A nursing home could turn away an elderly LGBT person or same-sex couple.
  • Foster care and adoption agencies could refuse to place kids with same-sex couples.
  • LGBT individuals, single women, or unmarried heterosexual couples.
  • Federal government employees could deny LGBT people things like Social Security benefits, by refusing to process important paperwork.
  • Homeless shelters or food kitchens could turn away LGBT people in need of assistance.
  • A pediatrician could actually refuse to treat the child of same-sex parents.
  • Agencies could refuse to accept LGBT kids who are in urgent need of safe, loving homes – or they could even place them with parents who intend to subject the children to dangerous practices, like conversion therapy.

The list goes on of what the initial draft order would have allowed for – including dangerous impacts for women and religious minorities.

Freedom for All Americans’ Chief Program Officer Kasey Suffredini released the following statement:

“President Trump has said on more than one occasion that he wants to be a friend to the LGBT community – if that’s the case, there is absolutely no reason for him to issue this executive order. Religious freedom is thoroughly protected in the Constitution, and no one is trying to change that. Any executive action – regardless of scope – that makes it easier to deny critical services to or discriminate against LGBT people is entirely unacceptable. … It’s particularly disturbing that this action could come the same week that lawmakers on Capitol Hill re-introduced the Equality Act – comprehensive legislation that would protect LGBT people from discrimination. This rumored executive order is the polar opposite of that legislation. President Trump has an opportunity to make good on his professed commitment to the LGBT community by supporting comprehensive nondiscrimination protections. It would be incredibly damaging for the president to move forward with a discriminatory executive order of any kind, particularly since his administration has already rescinded guidance meant to protect transgender students in schools.”

What’s worse is that the proposed language is wrapped in the language of religious freedom, which is one of the most important freedoms in our country – and that’s why it’s already enshrined in the First Amendment. Religious liberty doesn’t need protecting – but LGBT people, who face significant discrimination just because of who they are, do.

Instead of attacking LGBT Americans the very same week that Congress introduces the Equality Act – a federal bill to bring LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections nationwide – President Trump should reject this horrible order. The White House should consider all Americans – including LGBT Americans – before taking a reckless action that could endanger the dignity, health, and safety of millions of people.

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