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Jeff Sessions Allows Employers to Discriminate Against LGBTQ People & Women

In another about-face from the Trump administration, Jeff Sessions issued a memo two days ago stating that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (which bans workplace discrimination on the basis of sex) does not protect individuals against discrimination on the basis of "gender identity per se, including discrimination against transgender individuals".

RFRA does not permit the federal government to second-guess the reasonableness of a sincerely held religious belief.

Under the new policy, a claim of a violation of religious freedom would be enough to override concerns for the civil rights of LGBT people and anti-discrimination protections for women and others.

Legal organizations likely will file lawsuits over the guidance for compromising the rights of LGBT people and others.

Sessions' guidelines comes on the same day that the Trump administration ended a provision of the Affordable Care Act requiring businesses to include birth control as part of insurance coverage. "The guidance that the Trump administration issued today helps protect that First Amendment freedom". The government's compelling interest in enforcing these laws should mean the businesses lose their arguments - but the Department of Justice guidance suggests that the interest in ending discrimination against LGBT people isn't actually all that important.

A Justice Department official who briefed reporters on the new legal guidance insisted that it does not amount to a license to discriminate.

Rick Garnett, a law professor at University of Notre Dame, said in some respects, the guidance served to "summarize, re-state, and endorse existing and established Supreme Court doctrine", but in others, it took "strong religious-freedom stands on questions that are contested".

The statement released Friday makes clear that, in Sessions' view, the benefit of the doubt should go to the person declaring a religious belief over those claiming illegal discrimination. "There will be numerous interpretations of what that religious freedom test would be and how the license to discrimination would be applied across particular agencies, grants and contracts", Stachelberg says.

"Agencies receiving federal funding, and even their individual staff members, [to] refuse to provide services to LGBTQ children in crisis, or to place adoptive or foster children with a same-sex couple or transgender couple simply because of who they are".

"All Americans should have the freedom to peacefully live and work consistent with their faith without fear of government punishment", said Michael Farris, the president of the Alliance Defending Freedom. The AP calls it "an order that undercuts protections for LGBT people".

He outlined as examples that religious entities may not be excluded from secular aid programs-in reference to the June U.S. Supreme Court decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer-and may not be prohibited from distributing religious materials simply due to their content. It also says the government can not enforce the so-called Johnson Amendment, which threatens to strip tax-exempt status from religious groups that engaged in political advocacy.

But the justice department, led by Sessions, argued that the 1964 Civil Rights Act - which outlaws discrimination based on a number of characteristics - does not provide any protections for gay people, despite outlawing sex-based discrimination. Sessions told the nation's federal prosecutors in a Thursday memo that they would be evaluated regularly based on their commitment to Project Safe Neighborhoods, which also emphasizes partnerships among local law enforcement and community groups. In a move about as #onbrand as his penchant for racism, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III rolled that shit right the fuck back to the time when men were men, women were women, and Sessions refused to believe the LGBTQ community was discriminated against. "We welcome President Trump's commitment to continue this legacy of protecting religious liberty". "The White House says the guidance "does not authorize anyone to discriminate" - and Lambda Legal will make sure it doesn't". "I would never use my faith to justify harm and discrimination to others like this country does to me".



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