Prominent civil rights groups Lambda Legal and the ACLU have vowed to fight President Trump “with everything we have” should he sign the long-rumored “religious freedom” executive order on Thursday.
The broad executive order on religious freedom would target LGBT people for discrimination at the hands of people with a religious objection to same-sex marriage, transgender people, and reproductive choices.
Trump has invited conservative faith leaders to the White House on Thursday for what is expected to be the ceremonial signing of the “religious freedom” order which also happens to coincide with the National Day of Prayer.
“We will fight this with everything we have,” Lambda Legal senior counsel Camilla Taylor told BuzzFeed News, “We are prepared to sue in a very short timeframe if the executive order closely resembles the leaked drafts.”
“The ACLU fights every day to defend religious freedom, but religious freedom does not mean the right to discriminate against or harm others. If President Trump signs an executive order that attempts to provide a license to discriminate against women or LGBT people, we will see him in court,” Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.
“We are ready to sue if they do something that authorizes discrimination. If Trump signs an order like the one that we saw a couple months ago, it would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & HIV Project.
“This executive order will be a charter for widespread and divisive discrimination, potentially against LGBTQ people, women, Muslim communities, and other marginalized communities. It is designed to destroy lives and roll-back fundamental rights. It trashes the separation of church and state and aims to combine them. It will have an immediate and chilling impact on every aspect of people’s lives, disproportionately impacting those who are low-income or otherwise marginalized. What will be shocking to millions of people of all faiths and secular people alike is that Trump radically twists freedom of, and freedom from, religion to justify this amoral action. In fact, the research shows that 61% of people of faith in America actually support LGBTQ inclusion and 59% of those are against religious exemptions,” said Rea Carey, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, in a statement.
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) May 2, 2017
In February, a leaked draft of the “religious freedom” executive order caused panic amongst many LGBT advocates.
Titled “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom”, the E.O.’s language makes for “almost total allowance for exemptions by any person, church, religious organization or for-profit business, allowing them to claim religious objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, contraceptives, abortion, and gender identity outside of their particular viewpoint” writes The New Civil Rights Movement.
Experts say such language would enable mass amounts of anti-LGBT discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom”.
“This executive order would appear to require agencies to provide extensive exemptions from a staggering number of federal laws—without regard to whether such laws substantially burden religious exercise,” Marty Lederman, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, told The Nation.
“The exemptions would raise serious First Amendment questions, as well, because they would go far beyond what the Supreme Court has identified as the limits of permissive religious accommodations.”