Trump Administration Proposes New Religious Law That Attacks LGBTQ Workers
Despite campaigning on a message that he would be the person to move the GOP forward on LGBTQ issues, LGBTQ rights have taken a battering under the Trump administration in 2018.
Earlier in the summer, following the high-profile Supreme Court case that favored a Christian baker who refused to provide a cake for a gay wedding, Trump’s Department of Labor issued a directive which allowed federal contractors to effectively dismiss LGBTQ workers under a religious freedom loophole.
Now, Buzzfeed reports, Trump is planning to expand that directive to give it more legal weight. The legislation will build on the earlier directive, establishing a formal regulation which permits businesses with federal contracts to dismiss employees on the ground of religious liberty.
But while a directive can be rescinded, once it is given legal weight it will take a much longer procedure to dismantle the regulation.
It would effectively bypass the Obama administration policies protecting LGBTQ worker rights and provide religious business owners with a loophole through which they can fire LGBTQ workers.
The US Office of Management and Budget announced on its website that it expected the Labor Department to produce a draft text of the regulation by December.
Given the early stage of the legislation, it is still unclear if the regulation will be limited to religious corporations with government contracts or if it will extend across all for-profit businesses.
Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma welcomed the news. He cited recent court decisions that had raised questions about the religious rights of contractors and said, “I look forward to seeing the proposed rule from the Department of Labor”.
However, the announcement has LGBTQ advocates concerned. Sarah Warbelow, the legal director of Human Rights Campaign told Buzzfeed, “we should not be going down the path of permitting discrimination with government funds”.
“No one should be afraid they could be fired at any moment”, she added.
There are also concerns that the loophole could be used to discriminate against people of other faiths. Once enshrined into law, offices that deal with civil rights complaints could have free reign to apply religious exemptions as broadly as they wish to.
Instead of advancing the GOP’s stance on LGBTQ rights, Trump is poised to set it back decades.