LGBT community responds to Justice Department changes

Mic Wakeup DOJ cuts transgender protections GOP takes hit in poll and a surprise from the NRA

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has issued a 25 page memo giving all federal agencies guidelines to an executive order President Donald Trump signed in May, promoting efforts to promote religious liberty.

Farris, who took over as CEO and general counsel of ADF in January, also lauded President Donald Trump for fulfilling a campaign promise.

"This guidance will help protect families like the Vander Boons in MI who were threatened with the effective closure of their family-run business for simply expressing a religious point of view on marriage that differed from that of the federal government", said Mr. Farris, referencing the owners of a meatpacking plant who were told by a United States Department of Agriculture inspector to remove from the company break room an article defending marriage as between one man and one woman.

A Justice Department official who briefed reporters on the new legal guidance insisted that it does not amount to a license to discriminate. He wrote that requiring employers to provide insurance coverage of contraceptives in violation of their religious belief "substantially burdens" their free practice of religion.

The Trump/Pence Administration is determined to promote discrimination through a false view of the law that has been rejected again and again by the courts. And these cases are not even recent. Foremost of those actions is the reinvigoration of "Project Safe Neighborhoods", a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.

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The group also has powerful conservative allies willing to come to their defense. Sen.

And civil liberties groups said there could be other effects.

The document goes on to state that religious liberty extends not only to persons, but to organizations, and that religious freedom is not surrendered when an individual participates in the marketplace or interacts with government - two key points argued in the HHS mandate debate over the last six years. According to the EEOC's statistics, the agency received 1,768 charges in 2016 that alleged sex discrimination related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity/transgender status.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin and the first openly gay U.S. Senator, told ABC News that Friday's guidance could pave the way for discrimination of vulnerable populations.

Today's guidance by Jeff Sessions proves this Administration will do anything possible to categorize LGBTQ Americans as second-class citizens who are not equal under the law. They say some people don't even bother fighting them.

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Rachel Tiven, executive director of Lambda Legal, said in a statement her organization will hold the Trump administration to its assertion the religious freedom guidance doesn't allow anti-LGBT discrimination.

Justice Department policy as outlined in the new memo "will enable systemic, government-wide discrimination that will have a devastating impact on LGBTQ people and their families", Griffin concluded.

The fight over the proper role of religious liberty in the nation is far from over, however. "It is countenancing exercises of faith in a way that will harm other individuals".

The policy would also allow religious freedom to be used as a basis for discrimination against women and other minorities.

Unsurprisingly, the DOJ's directive was met with effusive praise by right-wing lawmakers and religious organizations, and fierce condemnation by civil rights groups that argue the Sessions memo constitutes little more than a "license to discriminate" against the LGBTQ community. "The protections for this right, enshrined in our Constitution and laws, serve to declare and protect this important part of our heritage". The broad effect of the guidance will continue to unfold in the coming months.

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