The Trump Administration is working on a new ‘Religious Freedom’ policy. This policy would allow federal contractors to discriminate against LGBTI employees.
This formal religious liberty regulation will affect businesses that have contracts with the United States government. According to Buzzfeed News, this would create a loophole in the Obama-era policy protecting LGBTI workers.
This Religious Liberty order was first introduced and signed this past summer.
It is unclear as to whether this policy will apply strictly to religious-based organizations with government contracts. However, the directive refers to Supreme Court rulings on Hobby Lobby and Masterpiece Cakeshop. Thus, it seems like it will also apply to for-profit businesses with religious owners.
On Wednesday, 17 October, the Office of Management and Budget confirmed on its website that the Labor Department ‘plans to update its regulations to comply with current law regarding protections for religion-exercising organizations.’
A Labor Department spokesperson told Buzzfeed News that the full draft of the text should be available in December.
‘I look forward to seeing the proposed rule from the Department of Labor through a normal, transparent rule-making process,’ Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma told Buzzfeed. Lankford is a Christian Republican who has pushed for these regulations.
‘We just should not be going down the path of permitting discrimination with government funds, and there’s no reason to open up this can of worms,’ Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign (HRC), told BuzzFeed.
‘A formal regulation could serve to further entrench the position that engaging in taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people can be permissible as long as it is framed as “religious liberty,”’ Ian Thompson, a legislative representative at the ACLU, said.
‘We made clear that taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people is unacceptable.’
The United States Labor Department did not respond to Buzzfeed News’ request for comment.