News (USA)

Civil rights groups to Trump: Prepare for battle over ‘religious freedom’ order

Trump religious freedom
Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP

President Trump better be ready for a fight if he plans to open up discrimination against the LGBTQ community, civil rights groups are warning.

Lambda Legal and the ACLU have said they will file suit against the Trump administration if he signs a “religious freedom” executive order.

Senior White House officials confirmed on Tuesday that Trump was planning to sign the long-rumored order on Thursday, to coincide with the National Day of Prayer. It would allow for discrimination against the LGBTQ community and others, so long as a sincerely held religious belief can be cited as the motivation.

The White House has yet to officially confirm the plan, but the administration will host faith leaders on Thursday.

“We will fight this with everything we have,” Lambda Legal senior counsel Camilla Taylor told BuzzFeed News, “We are prepared to sue in a very short timeframe if the executive order closely resembles the leaked drafts.”

“The ACLU fights every day to defend religious freedom, but religious freedom does not mean the right to discriminate against or harm others. If President Trump signs an executive order that attempts to provide a license to discriminate against women or LGBT people, we will see him in court,” Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

“We are ready to sue if they do something that authorizes discrimination. If Trump signs an order like the one that we saw a couple months ago, it would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & HIV Project.

“This executive order will be a charter for widespread and divisive discrimination, potentially against LGBTQ people, women, Muslim communities, and other marginalized communities. It is designed to destroy lives and roll-back fundamental rights. It trashes the separation of church and state and aims to combine them. It will have an immediate and chilling impact on every aspect of people’s lives, disproportionately impacting those who are low-income or otherwise marginalized. What will be shocking to millions of people of all faiths and secular people alike is that Trump radically twists freedom of, and freedom from, religion to justify this amoral action. In fact, the research shows that 61% of people of faith in America actually support LGBTQ inclusion and 59% of those are against religious exemptions,” said Rea Carey, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund in a statement.

A demonstration is taking place in front of the White House today to show that their religion doesn’t trump our rights.

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