Donald Trump is planning on signing a long-rumored anti-LGBT “religious freedom” executive order at the White House on Thursday, according to a report in Politico:
Two senior administration officials confirmed the plan, though one cautioned that it hasn’t yet been finalized, and noted that lawyers are currently reviewing and fine-tuning the draft language. Thursday is the National Day of Prayer, and the White House was already planning to celebrate the occasion with faith leaders.
The signing would represent a major triumph for Vice President Mike Pence—whose push for religious-freedom legislation backfired mightily when he served as governor of Indiana—and his allies in the conservative movement.
Dozens of Republican lawmakers sent Trump a letter last month urging him to sign the order. Although the White House said in February that it had no plans to sign the order, an official told USA Today that Trump was trying to find a “middle ground” policy.
RELATED: Leaked Draft of ‘Religious Freedom’ Executive Order Reveals Chilling Plan to Legalize Anti-LGBT Discrimination
A draft of the alleged order leaked in February. Read a PDF of the draft HERE.
The four-page draft order, a copy of which is currently circulating among federal staff and advocacy organizations, construes religious organizations so broadly that it covers “any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations,” and protects “religious freedom” in every walk of life: “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.”
The draft order seeks to create wholesale exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious or moral objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, and trans identity, and it seeks to curtail women’s access to contraception and abortion through the Affordable Care Act.
The contents of the leaked document were draconian and chilling:
Language in the draft document specifically protects the tax-exempt status of any organization that “believes, speaks, or acts (or declines to act) in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life.”
Politico reports that “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.”
Meanwhile, the ACLU is telling Trump, don’t you dare, we’ll sue immediately:
It’s telling that out of nearly 240 Republicans in the House, a mere 51 signed this letter. (Eighteen Republicans out of 52 joined a similar letter in the Senate). As we have repeatedly made clear, the ACLU will not hesitate to challenge this discriminatory EO should it be signed.
For President Trump to stand any chance at following through on his campaign promise to be a “real friend” to the LGBT community, he cannot follow fringe, anti-LGBT extremists down this ill-advised path of licensing discrimination under the guise of religious liberty. Those representatives advocating for this EO in Congress are urging a return to a discriminatory past, and they are a minority even among very conservative House Republicans.
Just last year, 43 House Republicans voted in favor of an amendment that reaffirmed a 2014 executive order from President Obama that prohibited businesses that contract with the federal government from discriminating against LGBT people. Upon taking office, the Trump administration made clear that it would keep these nondiscrimination requirements on federal contractors in place. And yet these protections could be completely undermined through this proposed EO.
Among the many prominent voices who have urged President Trump to reject this discriminatory EO is former Republican U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming.
Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental national values — and something the ACLU fights for every day. But it does not give anyone the right to impose their beliefs on others, to harm others, or to discriminate. President Trump would be well served by listening to the advice of Sen. Simpson and other conservatives who recognize that discrimination against people based on who they are or whom they love must be rejected.