LGBTI rights activists are warning what could happen after Trump signed the ‘religious liberty’ executive order.
When the president signed the order on 4 May, many LGBTI advocates breathed a sigh of relief to see the final bill wasn’t the same as the incredibly discriminatory initial draft leaked in February.
However, the order is concerning for several reasons.
‘After careful review of the executive order covering the Johnson Amendment signed by President Trump today, the American Civil Liberties Union has determined not to file a lawsuit at this time,’ the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a statement.
‘[The 4 May] executive order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome.
‘After careful review of the order’s text we have determined that the order does not meaningfully alter the ability of religious institutions or individuals to intervene in the political process. The order portends but does not yet do harm to the provision of reproductive health services.’
Upon further review of the executive order, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) predicted it could be used to ‘shield federal employees who refuse to process veterans or Social Security benefits for same-sex spouses, or their children; or allow hospitals to deny visitation to same-sex spouses, or permit emergency shelters to turn away gay or transgender individuals even if they receive federal funding.’
The Justice Department declined to comment on how the executive order would be carried out.
‘We are watching…’
‘We are watching and we will challenge any effort by Jeff Sessions or other agencies of Trump’s administration to license discrimination,’ said Sarah Warbelow, legal director for HRC.
James Esseks, a lawyer with the ACLU who oversees litigation for LGBTI people and those living with HIV, is also wary about the Trump administration’s potential to harm the LGBTI community.
Esseks points out just because this ‘religious liberty’ bill didn’t single out LGBTI people specifically, it doesn’t mean the bill won’t still be used to discriminate against the LGBTI community.
‘That doesn’t mean there’s no threat,’ he told the Miami Herald. ‘There’s a big threat. We remain very worried about what this administration will do.’