As early as Thursday, Donald Trump will sign a new executive order that allows entities to discriminate against the millions of Americans whose gender and sexuality fall outside the boundaries of those entities’ religious beliefs, CNN reports.
You’ve heard of the so-called religious-liberty laws. In March 2016, Georgia’s governor vetoed House Bill 757 that would have given faith-based organizations in Georgia the option to deny services and jobs to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. A federal judge blocked a Mississippi law back in July that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against gay and transgender people. Back in 2015, then little-known Ind. Gov. Mike Pence privately signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act amid much protest and outcry.
Now Trump wants to make it the law of the land.
The president has also reversed guidelines from the Obama administration that made it easier for transgender citizens to use the bathroom of their choice, even though he advocated for fairness and equality for the LGBT community during his campaign.
So-called religious freedom has long been used as an excuse to discriminate against minorities. In George Wallace’s infamous “Segregation Now, Segregation Forever” speech (pdf), he invoked the name of God 27 times, arguing that integration infringed on the religious rights of Southerners. In 1964, when Judge Leon Bazile was asked to vacate a ruling that sentenced Mildred and John Loving to a year in jail for their interracial marriage, the judge issued an order that would eventually be overturned by the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia. Bazile’s order said, in part:
Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
But Trump and the GOP apparently believe that they can do anything they want—even if it is unconstitutional—if they put “freedom” or “liberty” in the title.
There are some who dismiss the idea that religious-freedom laws will allow people to discriminate against people based on race. In 2014 a Pew Research poll revealed that 10 percent of Americans believe a business owner’s religion should allow him or her to refuse service to black people.
In other news, Congress has yet to bring up my proposal to form a special bipartisan group composed of people with big hands endowed with the ability to fix these problems, titled the “Freedom Commission for Slapping the Orange Off the President Liberty Bill of 2017.”
Maybe it’s stuck in committee.
Read more at CNN.