Department of Justice Issues Sweeping License to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Americans in New Guidance

By Adam Polaski • October 6, 2017 • 1:46 pm

Today United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice issued guidance that gives unprecedented leeway to federal agencies, employees, and even some businesses to cite individual religious belief as justification for discriminating against LGBTQ people and denying them services.

The guidance issued today amounts to a sweeping license to discriminate — a radical departure and sweeping reinterpretation that far exceeds the original modest intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was passed to protect people from being discriminated against on the basis of their religion.

Kasey Suffredini, acting CEO and president of strategy at Freedom for All Americans, said today:

“Today’s news could allow federal agencies, employees, and government contractors to discriminate without consequence against LGBTQ Americans. Religious freedom is one of our most cherished fundamental values, but that’s hardly what this order is about. This guidance further erodes existing nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people and opens the floodgates for agencies and individuals to engage in taxpayer-funded discrimination. This is distinctly un-American and yet another example of the Trump administration’s failure to live up to the president’s promise of being ‘great’ for LGBTQ people and for America. Religion is never a justification for discrimination.”

This is the latest in a series of steps the Trump administration has taken to roll back LGBTQ equality, including revoking nonbinding guidance that assisted schools with how to respect transgender students and banning transgender Americans from serving openly in the armed forces. It comes just one day after the DOJ announced they will no longer protect transgender Americans from workplace discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

A September 2017 survey by Public Religion Research Institute found that 72% of Americans support laws that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. This includes six out of ten (60%) Republicans and 81% of Democrats.

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