Hit & Run

Trump's Religious Freedom Order Doesn't Roll Back LGBT Protections

New draft of executive action does much less than rumored.


Eric Thayer/ POOL/EPA/Newscom

Once again, fears that the Trump administration is going to roll back federal LGBT protections may end up proving to be misguided.

The LGBT community and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) erupted in a new round of activism and concern when Politico reported yesterday President Donald Trump was planning to sign a new religious liberty executive order on Thursday.

Politico reported based on unnamed sources that this order was similar to one that Trump had previously rejected. That initial order catered to religious conservatives by carving out massive exceptions from federal discrimination laws and demanded certain religious positions be accommodated.

Let's be clear about that first draft from a libertarian perspective: This was not what libertarians would classify as a "religious freedom" executive order. As I explained back in February when it came around, that proposed order would have classified particular religious beliefs—that marriage is for heterosexual couples, that sex is immutable and determined at birth, and that life begins at conception—as beliefs protected by government order. It literally declared particular beliefs that the government would recognize over others and therefore violated the Establishment Clause. There were parts of the executive order that libertarians would support, like exempting religious organizations from having to pay for employees' birth control or abortions. But overall the order had serious, fundamental constitutional issues and it was good that Trump didn't sign it.

So, when Politico reported that the order was back, LGBT organizations and the ACLU sounded the alarms again. The ACLU held a rally today and has threatened to sue to try to block the order before even learning its contents.

We won't fully know the contents until tomorrow, but what the White House has released is much, much, much less than what was presented back in February. NBC reporter Kelly O'Donnell got a briefing at the White House with the basics of the order, which will be presented tomorrow. The summary:

  • It is the policy of the administration "To protect and vigorously promote religious liberty"
  • Calls on the IRS to show "maximum discretion" in the enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, which limits the power of religious leaders (and many charity groups) from endorsing political candidates
  • Calls for "regulatory relief" for businesses and employers who have religious objections to being required to fund birth control or preventative services.

And that's it. There are no special protections being extended to those who oppose gay marriage or recognizing transgender people. That first item, though, is very vague in the summary. It could end up meaning very little, but we'll have to see what the actual order says tomorrow.

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  1. Best to fund-raise off of the scare just to be safe.

  2. Tell KM-W not to do this.
    In context it comes across as kinda craven.

  3. There are no special protections being extended to those who oppose gay marriage or recognizing transgender people

    What in the ever living fuck is that? So, in Shack's mind, people who support those things deserve special protections. But not those who have the gall to think unapproved thoughts.

    1. Talk about projection, Kreskin.

      1. Well, the purpose of government is not to provide special protections to anyone, but to protect everyone's rights the same.

        This recent obsession with LGBTQWTF is built on a foundation of using government force to acquire special protections for people in preferred victim groups. It is rent through and through with true believers who have no compunction about bringing down the hammer of government power on the people that don't toe the line. And the true believers have been so illiberally educated that they lack the context to know how dangerous that is.

        So yeah, I've become sensitive to this. I look into the political and cultural landscape and I see mostly unthinking virtue signalling. It worries me.

        1. Recent? Dude, laws obsessed with gay people predate the Constitution, before there was even a polite term for us.

          Every single recent advance had been getting is closer to that "protect everyone's rights the same" bit. Heck, even the "worst" we've done, hate crime laws and non-discrimination laws? Copy-catting of you guys.

          1. Heck, even the "worst" we've done, hate crime laws and non-discrimination laws? Copy-catting of you guys.

            Who's "you guys"? Copy-catting what? When did libertarians champion those things?

  4. Look, bottom line, do I have to bake a cake or not?

    1. You can bake me a cake whenever you want 😉

      1. (If you know what I mean.)

    2. President Trump would have to roll back the CRA and overrule state level laws in order to change the answer to that question.

      While such an order would be exactly what his conservative supported are hoping for, it's unlikely it would survive a court.

  5. It could end up meaning very little, but we'll have to see what the actual order says tomorrow.

    No we won't. We have the national press already in full panic mode telling us exactly what it means. Every news show I watched last night and this morning told me the same thing. Trump is legalizing discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender folks. That was the headline everywhere I looked. The subhead was "Trump rolls back LGBTQ protections put in place by Obama". After you dug down a paragraph or two, then you might get to the actual substance.

    But nobody listens or reads that much. The headline is all that matters. Trump hates gay people. Simple and to the point. Now go contribute to the DNC.

  6. All of this has come about because people have capitulated to the idea that "public accommodations" laws are good and don't violate the First Amendment.

    You know, sometimes you fall down when you're trying to walk on the slippery slope.

    1. Nope. Obama's order, that conservatives want President Trump to roll back, was about contacting with the government. Had nothing to do with public accommodations.

      1. *contracting. Stupid autocorrect.

      2. Thank you for pointing that out. And I agree that the government itself should be utterly prohibited from discrimination, including in contracting.

        But the problem with public accommodations laws still exists in the private realm.

    2. Is there freedom of association at all anymore? Legitimate question. Have we eliminated all possible situations where people are free to exclude anybody from anything for any reason?

      1. Well, seeing as the CRA (1964) days I can't consider whether or not someone's holy book literally calls for my death in my decisions to hire, fire, rent to, or serve taquitos to, I'm thinking you're answer is "no".

        That said, three census has retired you at least fess up to the government where you live once every ten years, so if you want to go extreme on this, it's never been around in American history.

        1. Your hatred toward religion and Christians in particular makes me sad. It's really easy to pick out the worst of a large group and then use the worst to condemn the whole.

  7. I would like an analyisis of how Obama's protections for LGBT people are not constitutionally dubious special protections for particular beliefs. I think mskong a distinction between those and protecting religious beliefs is splitting hairs.

    1. Could you please elaborate on how or why you have determined that "LGBT people" have arrived at their decisions as a 'matter of BELIEF'?!

  8. You know, if the American people would stand up and be heard we wouldn't have to rely on politicians who flip flop and betray the moral fiber and common sense this great Country once had just for personal gain. I have no problem with people exercising their God given rights to Free Will and doing their own thing but I have the right to exercise my free will and not condone uncommon and unnatural behavior. I do not and will not hate gay people but I do not condone people trying to convince others this is normal and especially when these actions confuse young children and draw them into a world that God condemns many times in the Old Testament and the New Testament. The world wants it their way no matter what and in spite of God's warnings they move forward, doing Satan"s work and turning as many souls away from God as they can. And the God fearing people stand by and do nothing. Shame on us.

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