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WATCH: Jeff Sessions awkwardly avoids question about LGBTI discrimination at hearing

Silence says it all

WATCH: Jeff Sessions awkwardly avoids question about LGBTI discrimination at hearing
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday (18 October), attorney general Jeff Sessions awkwardly avoided a question about LGBTI discrimination.

Two weeks ago, Sessions released a memo on Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty.

At the hearing, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois brought up the memo.

He asked the question: ‘Under the guidance you released to all executive departments on religious liberty, let me ask you this question: Could a Social Security Administration employee refuse to accept or process spousal or survivor benefits paperwork for a surviving same-sex spouse?’

Sessions froze for several seconds before admitting it was something he ‘never thought would arise’. He then said he would have to provide a written response.

Durbin followed it up with another question about LGBTI discrimination. He asked if the guidance would allow refusal ‘to provide services to LGBTQ people, including in emergencies, without risk of losing federal contracts’.

Sessions once again didn’t have an answer.

Watch the whole exchange here:

These are hardly surprising questions from Democratic and progressive politicians. Contentions between Democrats and Republicans regarding discrimination and religious liberty is nothing new.

Sessions’ silence and inability to answer, then, speaks volumes. His Justice Department hardly has a reputation for protecting or promoting LGBTI rights.

He also added ‘the balance needs to be properly struck’ between practicing religion and following laws.

However, this comes not longer after Sessions ‘personally’ sent a lawyer to prosecute a man accused of killing a gender fluid teen. The move surprised many critics. Several groups, though, quickly cautioned against outright praise, calling the decision a ‘publicity stunt’ and ‘distraction’.

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