It was really only a matter of time: a proposed executive order would curtail LGBT rights on the basis of “religious freedom,” a common conservative line of attack.
What’s going on?
While not an actual executive order yet, there is a proposed EO circulating which would allow persons, religious organizations, and some companies to refuse service to LGBT people, and also to allow them not to provide contraceptive coverage as required by the Affordable Care Act, all on the basis of “religious freedom.” There are also some religious organizations which would lose their tax-exempt status if they commented openly in opposition to LGBT rights and on other political issues. The proposed EO would remove that restriction, keeping their tax-exempt status intact. It may even allow federal employees and contractors to discriminate against LGBT people in the services they provide.
Why is it important?
The ultimate impact of such a measure is not yet known, and it may not even become a signed and enforced executive order. However, these “religious freedom” measures which enshrine bigotry into the law in the name of religion are very popular among conservatives, and if Trump doesn’t implement such an order himself, federal laws may come out of the Republican Congress to much the same effect.
Such discriminatory orders and laws are dangerous, even deadly. Contraception is a valuable and necessary medical practice with a wide range of uses–allowing companies and organizations to pick and choose whether to cover it clearly runs against the intent of the ACA. Likewise, permitting businesses–even federal agencies–to discriminate against LGBT people would be extremely harmful. We wouldn’t tolerate such discrimination on the basis of race, and it shouldn’t be allowed just because certain people have opted to shroud their bigotry in a thin veneer of religious belief.
What can I do?
At the moment, there is probably not much any of us can do to directly stop an EO like this from coming to fruition. The Trump administration is clearly not very responsive to the needs of people who don’t support Trump and his agenda.
But it is probably a good idea to keep an eye on how this measure proceeds–if it proceeds at all–and raise awareness within your own social circles of its implications. Making discrimination the official policy of the federal government would be dangerous no matter who is being discriminated against, and so far we already have discrimination against Muslims (with the travel ban) and this form may not be far behind.
If you have the money to spare, consider supporting one of the various LGBT rights organizations, which use the legal system to combat discriminatory actions like these.
Any further movement on this issue will certainly be reported here.
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