Earlier today, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued new guidance allowing individuals and businesses to act in the name of “religious freedom” and discriminate against LGBTQ people, without fear of government reprisal. The order allows individuals to act or abstain from action according to their religious beliefs and prohibits the government from targeting religious individuals and organizations for acting on those beliefs. This comes on the heels of guidance issued earlier this week from Sessions stating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect transgender individuals from discrimination, a reversal of guidance issued under the Obama Administration.
The Trump Administration’s decisions this week regarding Title VII and “religious freedom” essentially legalize discrimination against people in the LGBTQ community. This unnecessarily puts LGBTQ families at risk of experiencing devastating discrimination practices in the workplace and within our public services, not only threatening their ability to live with dignity in our communities, but also their safety and economic security. For example, the guidance allows for Section 8 landlords to evict tenants if they are LGBTQ and federal contractors to deny family and medical leave to an LGBTQ employee who needs to care for a sick spouse. It also enables child welfare agency workers to deny LGBTQ families the ability to foster and adopt children.
This is an unacceptable affront to American values of fairness and freedom and will have a disproportionate impact on low-income families, people of color, and transgender individuals and their families who will now lack legal recourse to challenge discrimination within their workplaces and public services.
The overwhelming majority of Americans, including Republicans, support protections against discrimination for LGBTQ people. Together, gay, straight, queer, and trans moms will rise to make sure that all Americans—regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity—are free to work and access public services without discriminatory hurdles.