Trump grants antigay clergy ‘free speech & religious liberty’ protections

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“Thanks to the overwhelming pushback from so many communities, President Trump stopped short today of explicitly endorsing anti-LGBT discrimination,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “But this vaguely worded order is clearly aimed at providing a license to discriminate against LGBT people, women, religious minorities, and others—while also eroding the separation of church and state. President Trump has simply asked others in his administration to do much of his dirty work.”

PFLAG National issued this statement:

Today the President of the United States issued an Executive Order which, although longer than one of his tweets, left us stunned by its brevity, alarmed by its content, perplexed by its many unanswered questions, and concerned about the next steps of this administration. In signing this so-called “religious liberty” order, the president has essentially granted broad permission to discriminate, and ceded enormous power to unelected officials to interpret regulation and current law. We are deeply concerned that rights and protections for people from marginalized communities will be even further subject to the whims of others’ personal ideology controlling their lives, a concept entirely antithetical to the values of freedom and dignity our nation holds dear. The irony of the president invoking the names of Thomas Jefferson—one of the greatest proponents of the separation of church and state—and The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—one of the great champions of nondiscrimination and equal rights—as he signed this Executive Order might have been lost on him; they were not lost on us.

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, had this to say, in an emailed statement:

Churches, temples and mosques play an important role in our society. But they are not, and should not, be political campaigns or political action committees. Faith leaders and people of faith agree that this is a line that should not be crossed.

This executive order also continues the Republican ‘War on Women.’ After rescinding the Obama regulation prohibiting states from barring qualified providers like Planned Parenthood from the Title X family planning program, this order goes even further by permitting employers to exclude coverage of contraceptives in their health plans, thereby depriving countless women of basic health care.

This executive order is pure political payback. It promotes religious discrimination and harms women’s health, and should be struck down by the courts.

Family Equality Council CEO Rev. Stan J. Sloan said:

This order, and the President’s remarks at the signing ceremony, are a yet another development in the disturbing pattern of religious exemption bills and policies surfacing at the state and federal levels. These religious exemptions undermine protections for LGBTQ families in general, and they disproportionately impact those living on low incomes or who are otherwise vulnerable. As an Episcopal priest, I am deeply disturbed by the hijacking of religious faith to justify political and social discrimination.

Over the past decade, Family Equality Council has worked hard to ensure our families are visible, recognized, and protected throughout the federal government. Today, we see these gains being undermined from the White House and the Justice Department to the halls of State Government across the country. We will stay watchful, vigilant, and ready to fight against any attempts to further legitimize or legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

SAGE CEO Michael Adams emailed:

Anti-LGBT religious leaders and denominations are aggressively lobbying the federal government to authorize religious-based discrimination against LGBT people, including elders who rely on federally funded services. SAGE was founded to fight that discrimination, which LGBT elders face every day. We will do everything in our power to fight efforts by the Trump Administration to facilitate religious-based discrimination against our older community members, who have fought for decades for the equality that we have gradually won.

And there was this tweet from activist Ernest Owens of Philadelphia:

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