Trump Attorney General still wants to pass law to permit anti-LGBT discrimination
Trump’s nominee for Attorney General has confirmed he still supports the anti-LGBT First Amendment Defence Act, which would permit homophobic discrimination in law.
Senator Jeff Sessions, the man in line to be the federal government’s most senior law official, is known as one of the most conservative and anti-LGBT members of Congress – holding a 0 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard.
Sessions, who if confirmed by the Senate will have oversight of the Justice Department’s work fighting to uphold LGBT rights protections, has a record vocally of vocally against equal marriage and discrimination protections for LGBT people, also opposed lifting the ban on openly gay people serving in the military.
Responding to a written question from Congress this week, Sessions declined to distance himself from the First Amendment Defence Act, a bill he co-sponsored which would permit businesses to discriminate against LGBT people on the grounds of religion.
He insisted: “The purpose of the legislation was to prohibit the federal government from taking discriminatory actions against any person based on their belief or action in accordance with a religious or moral conviction.
“I supported this legislation because I believe that we can, and should, protect the rights of all citizens— including LGBT individuals and those with traditional views of marriage.
“I do not see freedom as a zero-sum game. I understand the critical and historic role of Department of Justice in upholding our nation’s civil rights laws. If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed
as Attorney General, I will enforce those laws to the letter.”
The American Civil Liberties Union slammed his response.
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They said: “Perhaps the most galling aspect of Sen. Sessions’ response was how he turns the definition of discrimination on its head.
“He argues that FADA is necessary to ‘prohibit the federal government from taking discriminatory actions.’ What Sen. Sessions calls ‘discriminatory actions’ are in fact longstanding federal civil rights protections.
“FADA, for example, would significantly undermine the ability of federal agencies tasked with enforcing our nation’s civil rights laws, such as the EEOC, to protect LGBT people and women from discrimination in education, employment, or housing.
“The kind of sweeping, taxpayer-funded discrimination that FADA would sanction flies in the face of the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage-equality ruling.
“Sen. Sessions can try all he wants to mask what the true intent of FADA is, but the ACLU will continue to speak out in strong opposition to this legislative attack on the LGBT community.”
Democratic Senator Al Franken said: “If enacted, [FADA] would prevent the federal government from enforcing laws and regulations that require federal benefits for same-sex spouses, and that prevent commercial landlords and even homeless shelters from turning away married same-sex couples, among other laws.
“For the majority of Americans, requiring that LGBT people are treated equally does not come at the expense of protecting other people’s rights.”
One of President-elect Trump’s few direct policy pledges was to sign the First Amendment Defence Act.