LGBT Groups Prep For Protests Ahead Of Possible 'Religious Freedom' Executive Order
Activists who are preemptively concerned about the possibility of a "religious freedom" executive order that would remove certain protections currently afforded to LGBTQ individuals are already ready planning their protests. If a day comes where Trump does sign a "religious freedom" order, expect protesters to assemble at 6 p.m. that day at Los Angeles City Hall. According to 100 Days and Me, a campaign launched by the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which asks people to stay informed during the first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency:
Contrary to the president’s recent press statement that he’s “respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights,” he has already publicly pledged to sign the anti-LGBT First Amendment Defense Act and now we’ve learned he’s not waiting for Congress to send him a bill. The executive order could even permit federal employees to deny basic services to LGBT people.
To be clear, this executive order is far from a certainty at this point. The worry comes from a draft of such an order that ABC News reported was "circulating inside the Trump administration" earlier this week. The order could possibly diminish current protections that prevent employers from discriminating against LGBT individuals.
According to The Nation, the draft is titled "Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom." The draft talks about allowing religious organizations and some private corporations to exercise their religious freedoms "when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.” Readings between the lines here, this indicates that a private employer could elect to, say, fire someone for being gay. Or perhaps, an employer could choose not to cover birth control or other reproductive health services for its employees, if those services were in disagreement with an owner's personal religious beliefs.
However, there is nothing concrete to indicate that any of this will come to fruition. White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders told ABC News, "We do not have plans to sign anything at this time but will let you know when we have any updates."
Thus far, Trump has indicated he intends to keep current workplace protections in place for LGBT individuals. However, activists have also been concerned about the influence of Vice President Mike Pence, who signed similar laws into effect as governor of Indiana.
A separate protest is happening at 6 p.m. today at Matthew Shepard Memorial in West Hollywood, organized by Robert Gamboa and Duke Mason of West Hollywood's Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board, according to WehoVille. More details regarding that protest can be found here. This protest follows several other recent demonstrations, including the massive Women's March on January 21, and protests against Trump's travel ban at LAX this past weekend.
Speaking of Trump and religion, the president attended the National Prayer Breakfast this morning, during which he promised to eschew the Johnson Amendment, which restricts churches and similar organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates, lest they lose their tax-exempt status.
"I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution," he said.
Trump also excoriated Arnold Schwarzenegger for not garnering high ratings as the host of Trump's old reality show Celebrity Apprentice. Given that the breakfast was a gathering of religious leaders, he suggested, albeit jokingly, they pray for Schwarzenegger and his ratings. This is, in fact, real life.
And now, here's George Takei:
If Trump signs that exec order authorizing LGBT discrimination in the name of religious freedom, he'll regret it. My people protest HARD.— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) February 2, 2017