LBGTQ Groups Prepare for Executive Order on “Religious Freedom”

An Obama-era executive order banning discrimination by federal employees against LGBTQ people could be reversed by President Trump this week. Photo Credit: Flickr/Euro

Suzanne Potter
Public News Service

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Today is the National Day of Prayer, and LGBTQ groups are bracing for an executive order President Trump is expected to sign today that would lift some Obama-era protections for people in the LGBTQ community in the name of “religious freedom.”

A previous version of the order, leaked a few months ago, contained exemptions from anti-discrimination laws for individuals and organizations that claim religious or moral opposition to things like transgender identity, same-sex marriage and premarital sex. Mark Snyder, director of communications with the Equality Federation, said the order is very broad and could lead to unintended consequences.

“It’s wide ranging,” Snyder said. “The religious exemption would protect and support discrimination in hiring, providing public services, in health care and beyond.”

The leaked version of the order said, “Americans and their religious organizations will not be coerced by the federal government into participating in activities that violate their conscience.”

Snyder said that could give a federal employee, for example, the right to refuse to process a marriage license for a same-sex couple. He said it’s possible federally funded adoption agencies could refuse to place children with same-sex or unmarried couples, and homeless shelters that get federal dollars could turn away LGBTQ teens.

Snyder said he worries it would give new political power to certain groups.

“It also provides an unprecedented exemption from the IRS tax code,” he said, “It allows churches and nonprofits to use tax-free dollars to engage in previously impermissible political activities – endorsing candidates as long as those activities are focused on opposing LGBT people.”

Trump has already lifted Obama-era guidelines that encouraged schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.