Several dozen Republican members of the House of Representatives are urging President Trump to issue an unconstitutional executive order that would authorize wide-ranging, taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT people, women, and religious minorities.
A draft of the EO that leaked earlier this year would allow federal employees, contractors, and grantees a “reasonable accommodation” to act pursuant to their beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman; that gender identity is fixed at or before birth; and that human life begins at conception while on the job and interacting with the public or providing taxpayer-funded services. This means, for example, a doctor working for the Department of Veterans Affairs could refuse to prescribe hormones to a transitioning transgender veteran based on the doctor’s belief that a person’s gender identity cannot differ from the sex they were assigned at birth.
It’s telling that out of nearly 240 Republicans in the House, a mere 51 signed this letter. (Eighteen Republicans out of 52 joined a similar letter in the Senate). As we have repeatedly made clear, the ACLU will not hesitate to challenge this discriminatory EO should it be signed.
For President Trump to stand any chance at following through on his campaign promise to be a “real friend” to the LGBT community, he cannot follow fringe, anti-LGBT extremists down this ill-advised path of licensing discrimination under the guise of religious liberty. Those representatives advocating for this EO in Congress are urging a return to a discriminatory past, and they are a minority even among very conservative House Republicans.
Just last year, 43 House Republicans voted in favor of an amendment that reaffirmed a 2014 executive order from President Obama that prohibited businesses that contract with the federal government from discriminating against LGBT people. Upon taking office, the Trump administration made clear that it would keep these nondiscrimination requirements on federal contractors in place. And yet these protections could be completely undermined through this proposed EO.
Among the many prominent voices who have urged President Trump to reject this discriminatory EO is former Republican U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming.
Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental national values — and something the ACLU fights for every day. But it does not give anyone the right to impose their beliefs on others, to harm others, or to discriminate. President Trump would be well served by listening to the advice of Sen. Simpson and other conservatives who recognize that discrimination against people based on who they are or whom they love must be rejected.