Conservatives worry about Trump caving to LGBT pressure on religious liberty
February 3, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A pro-natural marriage advocate at the conservative Heritage Foundation said President Trump “should not cave” to LGBT activists by failing to issue a strong executive order defending Americans’ religious liberty, a leaked draft of which has been the subject of intense criticism on the Left.
Heritage senior fellow Ryan Anderson said, based on a document first leaked to the leftist magazine The Nation, that the order would be a “great place to start” for President Trump to honor his pledge to strongly defend the freedom of people to exercise their spiritual and moral conscience.
Homosexual and transgender activists are vociferously complaining the proposed order would constitute a “license to discriminate” against LGBTQ individuals and events like homosexual “marriages.”
Based on the leaked draft of the executive order, Anderson describes what it would do:
“It tells the entire federal government to respect federal statutes and Supreme Court decisions that make clear the free exercise of religion applies to all people, of all faiths, in all places, and at all times — that it is not merely the freedom to worship.
“It notes that religious organizations include all organizations operated by religious principles, not just houses of worship or charities. And it follows the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in saying that religious exercise “includes all aspects of religious observance and practice,” not just those absolutely required by a faith.
“It instructs all agencies of the federal government, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law,” to reasonably accommodate the religion of federal employees, as required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“It instructs the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury to finally grant relief to the Little Sisters of the Poor and others who weren’t exempted from the Obamacare abortifacient and contraception mandate.
“It instructs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to ensure that all citizens have the ability to purchase healthcare plans through Obamacare that do not cover abortion or subsidize plans that do.
“It instructs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to ensure that the federal government does not discriminate against child welfare providers, such as foster care and adoption services, based on the organization’s religious beliefs.
“It adopts the Russell Amendment and instructs all agencies of the federal government to provide protections and exemptions consistent with the Civil Rights Act and Americans with Disabilities Act to all religious organizations that contract with the federal government or receive grants.
“It instructs the secretary of the Treasury to ensure that it does not revoke nonprofit tax status because a religious organization’s ordinary religious speech deals with politics, or because it speaks or acts on the belief that marriage is the union of husband and wife, that a person’s sex is based on immutable biology, or that life begins at conception.
“It instructs all agencies of the federal government to refuse to recognize any decision by a federally recognized accrediting body that revokes or denies accreditation to an organization because of such beliefs.
“It instructs all agencies that they may not take adverse action against federal employees, contractors, or grantees because of their speech about marriage outside of their employment, contract, or grant, and that agencies shall reasonably accommodate such beliefs inside of employment, contract, or grant.”
Anderson, the Heritage Foundation’s William E. Simon senior research fellow in American Principles and Public Policy, said the draft executive order text was released to a far-left news source as a means of generating outrage to stop it.
“But the president should not cave,” he writes. “He should stand up to the liberal outrage and hostility to ordinary American values that fueled his rise in the first place.”
Administration officials and veteran Republicans in Washington, D.C., say that a number of proposed orders circulate for consideration in a new administration and that there is no guarantee that this or any leaked policy will survive.
“We do not have plans to sign anything at this time but will let you know when we have any updates," Trump spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told ABC News. Like most media, the ABC report by Rick Klein characterized the potential Trump order not as protecting religious liberty but as “a possible weakening of protections designed to shield LGBT individuals from discrimination.”
Erick Erickson, a radio talk show host and of “You Will Be Made to Care: The War on Faith, Family, and Your Freedom to Believe,” was gleeful about the potential Trump executive order and blasted LGBT activists for “bellyaching” about the proposed Trump executive order.
“They are complaining because [under such an order] virtually no one will have the ability to force another to honor sexual perversion as the price of being allowed employment and people who don’t need birth control, like Catholic women religious, won’t have to buy insurance policies that covers them,” he wrote.
Nevertheless, homosexual and transgender activists are portraying the potential Trump order as a direct threat to their “rights.”
Writes Zack Ford, an LGBT activist who writes for the leftist news site ThinkProgress, "To be clear, it doesn’t protect people regardless of what they believe on LGBT issues, sex before marriage, or abortion; it only protects people who take the religious conservative position on those issues. It is a flagrant endorsement of one set of religious beliefs over another."
Anderson insists the proposed executive order would not overturn the 2014 Obama LGBT executive order on federal contractors just renewed by Trump. “These [religious liberty] protections take nothing away from anyone. … They protect diversity and pluralism and tolerance,” he writes.
But other social conservatives like Brian Camenker of Mass Resistance are dubious that Trump’s “LGBTQ” executive order and one expected to protect religious freedom can peacefully coexist. They believe the fight against the far-reaching LGBTQ agenda should not be limited to a defensive fight for religious liberty.
“Rights” based on homosexuality and gender confusion (transgenderism) are “completely incompatible with religious liberty,” Camenker told LifeSiteNews. He urges pro-family leaders to tell President Trump, regarding federal LGBTQ policies and regulations: “Take it all out!”
Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, has urged President Trump to see an order protecting religious freedom order as “just the start.”
“There are many more anti-religious freedom policies of the Obama administration that must be reversed. … People of faith should not be punished by the government for living in accordance with their beliefs,” he wrote.