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Report: Trump to possibly sign religious freedom order May 4
by Matt Simonette
2017-05-02

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Two Trump administration officials told Politico May 2 that the president is expected to sign a so-called "religious freedom" executive order May 4, which is the National Day of Prayer.

Several conservative leaders have been invited to the White House for the signing ceremony, Politico said. One of the sources cautioned that the plan had not yet been "finalized."

Vice President Mike Pence and his allies have reportedly been pressuring Trump to sign the order, which supposedly has not changed much since it leaked this past winter. News of the pending order sparked outrage amongst progressive activists and Trump put the order on hold at the behest of family members.

The leaked order was a federal version of so-called religious freedom legislation proposed in numerous states, most notably in Indiana, where Pence, then the governor of that state, helped shepherd the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to fruition in 2015, with disastrous results. It said that federal LGBT employees, and LGBT employees of federal contractors, who make up a large percentage of the U.S. work force, would not be legally protected from discrimination should employers say that that the discrimination was rooted in religious principles.

"Donald Trump's rumored unconstitutional action is nothing more than a license-to-discriminate order that puts millions of LGBTQ people at risk," said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin in a statement. "There is no religious freedom crisis in America today, but there is a crisis of hate and discrimination. At a time when two-thirds of all LGBTQ people report having experienced discrimination, Donald Trump is making the problem worse by giving legal cover to perpetrators. By even considering this discriminatory order he has broken his promise to be a president for all Americans."

The order would also have had grave implications for women seeking birth control and family planning services, unmarried couples and numerous others. Not only did it give discrimination against federal employees and others legal cover behind religious convictions, it also directed the U.S. Attorney General to set up a Department of Justice division or task force to investigate violations of religious liberties.

"The Constitution already protects the ability to exercise one's religion," said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. "What our Constitution does not permit is wielding religion as a weapon of discrimination against someone else, particularly with taxpayer funds."

News of the possible May 4 signing came the same day as Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives announced that they would again introduce the Equality Act, which would extend federal protections from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the LGBT community.

Politico's story is at politi.co/2qpelLS .


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