On July 30, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Department of Justice's creation of a "religious-liberty task force" to "help the department fully implement our religious guidance"and many pro-LGBT organizations were quick to respond.
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates issued "5 Things To Know About the Religious Liberty Task Force." Among the items listed were that Sessions is bolstering discrimination by citing the backlash against the baker in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case; and that religious freedom should not be used as leverage to discriminate against anyone.
The Human Rights Campaign also issued a statement, with Legal Director Sarah Warbelow saying, "This taxpayer-funded task force is yet another example of the Trump-Pence White House and Jeff Sessions sanctioning discrimination against LGBTQ people. Over the last 18 months, Donald Trump, Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions have engaged in a brazen campaign to erode and limit the rights of LGBTQ people in the name of religion. The Attorney General standing shoulder-to-shoulder this morning with anti-LGBTQ extremists tells you everything you need to know about what today's announcement was really all about."
In addition, the Democratic National Committee LGBTQ Media Director Lucas Acosta said in a separate press release, "By creating this task force, Sessions is establishing a unit dedicated to undermining LGBTQ rights and giving anti-LGBTQ far-right extremists like task force head Jesse Panuccio a taxpayer-funded platform to push their anti-equality agenda. Rather than ensuring every person has equal protections and opportunities, Sessions is shamefully doubling down on bigotry."
"The task force will help the department fully implement our religious liberty guidance by ensuring that all Justice Department components are upholding that guidance in the cases they bring and defend, the arguments they make in court, the policies and regulations they adopt and how we conduct our operations," Sessions said.
Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio and Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy Beth Williams will co-chair the task force.