AG order shields religious objectors to LGBT rights

Lucy Bush
October 8, 2017

Later in the document, Section 4 of that executive order provides, "In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law".

Sessions had been instructed to "issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in federal law" by an executive order signed by President Trump in May.

The attorney general's memorandum includes protections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), including (#14) how demanding its legal standard is in protecting religious liberty, (#12) that it does not allow the federal government "to second-guess the reasonableness of a religious belief", and (#13) RFRA is violated when the government "substantially pressures" a religious person or group "to modify such observance or practice".

"This guidance will help protect families like the Vander Boons in MI who were threatened with the effective closure of their family-run business for simply expressing a religious point of view on marriage that differed from that of the federal government".

Under the new policy, a claim of a violation of religious freedom would be enough to override many anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, women and others. The message of today's guidance is that these and other targets have few if any legal rights that their antagonists need to respect.

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Also, EVP Jonathan Gear sold 30,004 shares of the firm's stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, July 14th. This reflected a combination of rising commodity prices, the exchange rate, and increased supply-chain pressures.

However, portions of the memo seem to set things up for people to use religious freedom as a basis for LGBTI discrimination. The Trump administration pitches its rules weakening the birth control coverage mandate as policies that give voice to a purportedly "silenced" group.

"Today the Trump-Pence administration launched an all-out assault on LGBTQ people, women and other minority communities by unleashing a sweeping license to discriminate", said Griffin in a statement.

Shortly after the Department of Justice guidance was issued, it was praised by a number of social conservative leaders and groups.

'It opens the door for discrimination in the workplace and public services, flying in the face of the majority of Americans of whom over 70 percent believe laws should protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, ' Isaacs said.

Sessions said that his guidelines would enhance the fundamental American principle of religious freedom. "There will be numerous interpretations of what that religious freedom test would be and how the license to discrimination would be applied across particular agencies, grants and contracts", Stachelberg says.

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As for specifics, I expect that we'll learn more about the first of GM's upcoming electric vehicles over the next few months. For instance, while battery electric is one strategy, as per the Bolt EV, GM is also looking to hydrogen fuel cells.

The Human Rights Campaign worries about some additional outcomes, though: That government officials themselves will be able to refuse to do their jobs when it comes to dealing with gay or transgender people (see: Kim Davis); and that federal contractors and faith-based organizations like hospitals would be able to discriminate against LGBT people and be able to refuse to provide services even in a crisis.

"All Americans should have the freedom to peacefully live and work consistent with their faith without fear of government punishment", said Michael Farris, the president of the Alliance Defending Freedom. 'The White House says the guidance "does not authorize anyone to discriminate" - and Lambda Legal will make sure it doesn't'. The SPLC said ADF "works to develop "religious liberty" legislation and case law that will allow the denial of good and services to LGBT people on the basis of relgion" and "has supported the recminalization of homosexuality in the USA and criminalization overseas".

While it is now the position of the Department of Justice that Title VII protections do not extend to transgender individuals, employers should still be careful to avoid discrimination on the basis of gender identity, as the law is still unsettled. Unfortunately, to the extent that the guidance defines existing law as permitting discrimination, that is a meaningless assurance. It references the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case rejecting contraception mandates.

To put it simply: Religion is being used as an excuse for discrimination.

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