In a move urged by Vice President Mike Pence and the religious right, President Trump is expected to sign a controversial “religious-freedom” executive order Thursday, to coincide with National Prayer Day.
The order, which would allow employers and companies doing business with the federal government to claim religious exemptions from laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people, or “any other circumstance“.
According to American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) officials, “this order would allow religion to be used as an excuse to discriminate“. The ACLU vowed to sue if Trump signs the edict, said Shane Goldmacher, a senior counselor with the group.
The order closely mirrors measures Pence advocated for, when he was governor of Indiana, where he also signed a harsh “Turn Away The Gays” bill into law. The White House, which declined repeated requests for comment, was reportedly “fine-tuning” the language of the order, sources close to the President indicated.
A draft of the decree was leaked to The Nation in February, revealing “overly broad language” intended to sidestep the 1964 Civil rights act, which federal courts have interpreted to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.
The new action by the White House, LGBT activists noted, is a sharp pivot away from the Trump campaign’s promise of inclusion, highlighted by the “LGBT For Trump” rainbow-flag display at last summer’s Republican National Convention. “We knew something like this was coming,” said LGBT legal analyst Sheldon Green. “It flies in the face of settled constitutional law.” The executive order is widely believed by conservatives to be the creation of Ivanka Trump and Trump advisor Jared Kushner, who is also the President’s son-in-law. Prominent right-wing figures have been invited to the Rose Garden for the signing, which they hailed as a “step in the right direction“.
The Log Cabin Republicans, a LGBT faction of the GOP, steadfastly supported Trump during the election, but also declined comment on the upcoming executive order. Gregory Angelo, the group’s president, praised Trump after his November Electoral College voctory, saying, “[Trump] will ensure the advances in LGBT freedom we have made thus far, will remain secure in a Trump administration.”
LGBT groups announced a Wednesday protest march at noon in Washington’s Lafayette Park, which is across the street from the White House.