Trump White House is ‘still working on’ anti-LGBT religious freedom order
White House officials are still working on an anti-LGBT religious freedom order which was supposedly spiked earlier this year.
A draft executive order leaked from inside the White House last month that would actively permit religious discrimination against LGBT people.
The leaked order would protect people who discriminate based on “the belief that marriage is or should be recognised as the union of one man and one woman [or that] male and female refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy at birth”.
After the document leaked and sparked immediate protests, White House officials claimed it had been spiked – but there have been several indications it is being worked on, and is being re-drafted to make it less vulnerable to a legal challenge.
Earlier this month, a group of 18 Republican Senators and 51 Congresspeople signed letters urging Trump to sign the executive order.
The Republican politicians claim that executive action is needed “to protect religious liberty in light of the Supreme Court’s recent redefinition of marriage”.
It asks: “We request that you sign the draft executive order on religious liberty… in order to protect millions of Americans whose religious freedom has been attacked or threatened over the last eight years.”
Speaking to USA Today, a senior White House official confirmed that executive action on ‘religious freedom’ is still in the works, but that the proposal is under development to find a “middle ground”.
The source said the President wants to “allow for people to express and maintain their strongly held religious beliefs”, but is wary of directly rolling back LGBT rights protections.
Alan Simpson, a former GOP whip and United States Senator from Wyoming, wrote in an open letter to Trump that the order would be a “political tinderbox that could explode in the faces of Republicans everywhere, reinforcing negative stereotypes about the party’s dislike of LGBT Americans”.
He wrote: “As one Republican to another, I’d like to offer this bit of advice to President Trump: Don’t do it.”
The retired politician added: “[The order would] reignite a feckless debate that time and time again has forced Republicans to retreat, as we’ve seen with North Carolina’s bathroom bill [and] Indiana’s similar “religious freedom” law. Vice President Mike Pence might consider telling you about the last of these because he spearheaded the effort as governor. It was quite a doozy.”
He continued: “What would you get out of signing this executive order? You would placate a vocal minority that includes some certified hate groups and far-right activists who are truly out of step with most Americans and many Republicans across the country.
“What would the other side get — or in other words, what gifts will you be handing to Democrats and others on a silver platter? A great cause, new supporters, new energy and money, the mother’s milk of politics.
“Aside from being plain cruel and ugly, permitting discrimination against L.G.B.T. Americans in the name of religion would fuel the progressive Democratic base, which devours these morsels of archaic predisposition and then expertly seizes on them — and the big bucks it raises would most likely be used to take you to court.
“I would respectfully suggest that you expend your time and energy on other issues — the solvency of Social Security, the cost of health care, humane immigration reform, building infrastructure and educating kids to succeed — that Republicans could leverage for broad support and for more praise for you and the party as it creeps closer to the midterm elections in 2018.”