LGBT groups, re­li­gious con­ser­va­tives wary of Trump’s next move

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD -

Mixed sig­nals from the White House on gay rights and re­li­gious ex­emp­tions have put two con­stituen­cies on edge: LGBT ad­vo­cates al­ready wary of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and so­cial con­ser­va­tives de­ter­mined to hold him to his cam­paign prom­ises.

Re­cent de­vel­op­ments have left both groups anx­ious and un­cer­tain.

Last week, Trump pledged to main­tain Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s job pro­tec­tions for les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der fed­eral em­ploy­ees, and the White House touted him as a pro­tec­tor of the broader LGBT com­mu­nity.

Soon af­ter, Trump nom­i­nated Judge Neil Gor­such to the U.S. Supreme Court, which cheered con­ser­va­tives be­cause of the nom­i­nee’s past sup­port for broad re­li­gious ex­emp­tions. Then a draft ex­ec­u­tive or­der on re­li­gious ex­emp­tions was leaked; among other things, it would have boosted pro­tec­tions for those with faith ob­jec­tions to gay mar­riage while un­der­cut­ting LGBT gains made under Obama.

The or­der would have gone a long way to sat­is­fy­ing Trump’s cam­paign prom­ise to re­li­gious con­ser­va­tives that “I will de­fend your re­li­gious lib­er­ties.” But as of Wed­nes­day the draft or­der hadn’t been signed, re­port­edly be­cause of ob­jec­tions from Trump’s daugh­ter Ivanka and oth­ers in his in­ner cir­cle.

Had the ex­ec­u­tive or­der been signed, LGBT-rights lead­ers were poised to re­spond with a wave of protests and law­suits de­pict­ing the or­der as au­tho­riz­ing tax­payer-funded dis­crim­i­na­tion. Even though Trump has backed off for now, they re­main wary.

“It’s re­ally not a ques­tion of if this ad­min­is­tra­tion will at­tack LGBT peo­ple — it’s a ques­tion of when and how,” said Rachel Tiven, CEO of Lambda Le­gal.

Mean­while, con­ser­va­tive re­li­gious lead­ers have been care­fully turn­ing up pres­sure on the pres­i­dent, who won 81 per cent of the white evan­gel­i­cal vote, along with a ma­jor­ity of Ro­man Catholics.

The Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil, the South­ern Bap­tist’s Ethics & Re­li­gious Lib­erty Com­mis­sion and oth­ers have urged Trump to take ac­tion.

Greg Bay­lor, se­nior coun­sel for the Al­liance De­fend­ing Free­dom, a con­ser­va­tive le­gal group that spe­cial­izes in re­li­gious lib­erty cases, said he hoped Trump would “make a global state­ment about how the new fed­eral govern­ment is go­ing to re­spect re­li­gious lib­erty.” Bay­lor said the draft ex­ec­u­tive or­der that re­mains in limbo would have been “a con­struc­tive step” to­ward that goal.

The U.S. Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops has launched an on­line lobby cam­paign urg­ing Catholics to make a sim­i­lar point in emails to the White House. “We pray that the new ad­min­is­tra­tion fol­lows through on its prom­ises re­gard­ing con­science rights and al­lows the Catholic com­mu­nity and other peo­ple of faith the free­dom to serve oth­ers in ac­cor­dance with our be­liefs,” said Arch­bishop Wil­liam Lori of Bal­ti­more, who leads the bish­ops’ ef­forts to se­cure con­science rights.

AP PHOTO

Mixed sig­nals from the White House have both some in the LBTG com­mu­nity and re­li­gious con­ser­va­tives what U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s move will be on gay rights and re­li­gious ex­emp­tions.

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