Trump DOJ and HHS Issue Major Religious Liberty, Pro-Life Protections

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She explains different agencies will be effectively run religious freedom tests on their actions. Adoption agencies could legally refuse to provide services to same-sex couples or even serve LGBTQ foster children.

In essence, it says that religious rights trump civil rights.

"Our freedom as citizens has always been inextricably linked with our religious freedom as a people", Sessions said.

On October 4, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed the Department of Justice's position that gender identity is protected as part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act's prohibition against sex discrimination - taking a position that is contrary to current guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Devin O'Malley, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, was quoted as saying, "The Department of Justice can not expand the law beyond what Congress has provided". Freedom of religion is paramount to our nation's success but does not give people the right to impose their beliefs on others, to harm others, or to discriminate.

The guidance includes the assurance that it "does not authorize anyone to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity in violation of federal law or change existing federal and state protections". "Federal agencies, government contractors, and grant recipients should not be permitted to discriminate simply by citing a religious belief for doing so".

Justice Department officials say the analysis was produced to follow up on President Donald Trump's executive order on religious freedom in May, and they say it sets no new policies and isn't directly related to any pending legal dispute. The government's compelling interest in enforcing these laws should mean the businesses lose their arguments - but the Department of Justice guidance suggests that the interest in ending discrimination against LGBT people isn't actually all that important. The Sessions memo "doesn't legalize discrimination at all", scoffed one to Politico.

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The document goes on to state that religious liberty extends not only to persons, but to organizations, and that religious freedom is not surrendered when an individual participates in the marketplace or interacts with government - two key points argued in the HHS mandate debate over the last six years. Discrimination against transgender people is sex discrimination, just as DOJ recognized years ago. "A license to discriminate goes against our core American values and I fear that the guidance the Justice Department issued today is not created to help agencies comply with the law, but rather to give them greater leeway to condone discrimination against LGBTQ people, women and others".

He outlined as examples that religious entities may not be excluded from secular aid programs-in reference to the June U.S. Supreme Court decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer-and may not be prohibited from distributing religious materials simply due to their content. That's why Congress must pass the Equality Act to protect all members of the LGBT community.

Sessions' guidance claims that the Constitution "protects the right to perform or abstain from performing certain physical acts in accordance with one's beliefs", granting an unlimited license to discriminate based on religion.

The Christian-owned craft store chain Hobby Lobby refused healthcare coverage of several forms of birth control to its female employees under RFRA exemptions and the Supreme Court allowed it in a 2014 ruling. The Trump administration has already retracted the guidance from the Obama administration mandating that schools accommodate transgender students in use of public restrooms and locker rooms.

The case surrounds skydiving instructor Donald Zarda, who was allegedly fired by his employer Altitude Express for being gay.

Many other states have passed similar religious freedom bills.