Thursday, May 4, 2017

BREAKING: Trump signs "Religious Freedom" order

In response to the latest Executive Order by President Trump:

Gay Central Valley believes in religious freedom. It is one of the founding principles of this nation. We cannot, however, allow religious freedom to change the business model for this country, where everyone must participate equally and fairly, and abide by all the laws of the land. Religious freedom allows Americans to believe and practice their religion as they wish, but it does not allow discrimination to be legalized in terms of business and public circles.

Gay Central Valley stands against any executive order by President Trump which permits discrimination and inequality to be permissible in the public square. We cannot allow that shift to happen in this country.

More on the order:

The Orders Have Two Primary Effects
President Trump's executive orders are reported to do two primary things.

1) One asks the Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price to amend regulations to exempt certain companies and religious groups from Obamacare's mandate to provide healthcare with contraception coverage. Price issued a statement saying he would take action responding to the order shortly. The issue gained attention when the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare couldn't mandate that Hobby Lobby (a for-profit company) and Little Sisters of the Poor (a non-profit) provide health care coverage that conflicted with their religious beliefs. It's not clear what further actions the order takes, but it promises "regulatory relief". The Washington Post explains:

In the Hobby Lobby case, the court said some employers can opt out of paying for their employees’ birth control coverage for religious reasons. Afterward, the Obama administration announced new rules to allow for the insurance company to pay for the contraception instead....The order calls for “regulatory relief” for those parties but does not spell out what that might entail.

2) The second order will reportedly aim to ease enforcement of The Johnson Amendment, which forbids religious organizations with tax-exempt status from endorsing political candidates. The New York Times writes:

Officials said Mr. Trump will direct the Internal Revenue Service to exercise “maximum enforcement discretion” so that religious organizations and other nonprofit groups are not subject to punishment for expressing political views during campaign seasons.

Under the law, religious groups that endorse political candidates are supposed to be investigated by the IRS, and may face a penalty of losing their tax-exempt status. According to The Washington Post, the law is rarely enforced: one audit and zero penalties have been imposed under the law since 2008.
The Original Order Was Expected To Include Anti-LGBT Provisions

Up until Wednesday, the bill was widely expected to include "religious liberty" provisions that would have allowed for discrimination against LGBT people based on religious beliefs. In February, a leaked draft of the order included broad language that would have supposedly allowed businesses and non-profits to deny services and other actions to LGBT people based on religious convictions. The order would have allowed groups to discriminate in the following situations:

...when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.
The draft order specifically mentioned objections to same-sex marriage, sex before marriage, beliefs around contraception, and trans identity.

Is This Vague Statement A Replacement For The Earlier Anti-LGBT Proposal?
The order that Trump signed only has a single sentence that resembles the discriminatory language of the draft order that was published by The Nation in February.: is the policy of the administration to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.
In Trump's statements made before signing the order, he said that he was instructing the Justice Department to research rules and regulations that would protect individual religious speech and actions — seemingly a nod the anti-LGBT portion which was left out.

It's unclear whether the Trump administration intends to return to the policies proposed in the draft later, or if this is a replacement for the original order.

The ACLU Has Already Vowed To Challenge The Order

In a statement, the ACLU's Executive Director Anthony Romero called the order "a broadside" to the separation of church and state.

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