Sessions issues religious liberty guidance to federal agencies

A bump stock is attached to a semi-automatic

Under the new policy, a claim of a violation of religious freedom would be enough to override many anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, women and others.

The guidance also reiterates that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers covered by the regulation from discriminating based on an individual's religious belief, observance or practice, "unless the employer can not reasonably accommodate such observance or practice without undue hardship".

The guidance also contends that religious protections to Title VII discrimination law extend to "discrimination on the basis of religious observance or practices as well as belief". The Department's position is contrary to the current guidance from the EEOC, which has stated definitively that it interprets, and will enforce accordingly, Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination as encompassing employment discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Because of a new interim final rule announced October 6 by the Trump administration, clients of First Liberty are now exempt from the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate, which forced businesses, ministries, and other non-profit organizations to reject their religious beliefs and moral convictions or violate the law. The Sessions Department of Justice is now putting those persons at the greatest risk of losing their jobs or homes.

A second memo by the attorney general directs implementation of the guidance within the Department of Justice. It says that the federal government may not substantially burden the free exercise of religion, unless there is a compelling state interest in doing so, and it is carried out in the least-restrictive manner possible.

"Agencies receiving federal funding, and even their individual staff members, [to] refuse to provide services to LGBTQ children in crisis, or to place adoptive or foster children with a same-sex couple or transgender couple simply because of who they are". "A lot of municipalities already have policies prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people", Hoover said.




He instructed the USA attorneys to "implement an enhanced violent crime reduction program that incorporates the lessons learned since the original program's launch in 2001 and leverages new strategies to help turn the tide against violent crime". "We are confident that the courts will continue to agree and will reject the politically driven decision by Attorney General Sessions".

However, LGBT advocates and liberal critics argue that such broad religious exemptions in the guidance could set up the potential for LGBT individuals be discriminated against in federal programs and could also have other impacts. It went after women's rights, seeking to limit abortions and birth control in the USA and worldwide, and weakened rules created to enforce equal pay by employers. From banning transgender servicemembers to dismantling protections for transgender students, this Administration has consistently and cruelly put prejudice and bigotry before the civil rights of the American people.

Also today, the Trump administration issued two new federal rules gutting the Affordable Care Act's mandate for employer-provided insurance plans to include coverage for contraceptives at no cost to the employee.

The National Center for Transgender Equality and other advocacy groups, on the other hand, claim the opposite: Theirs is the correct interpretation of the law.

"The fact that the ADF has confirmed it has participated in a listening session is further proof that extremists have infiltrated the highest echelons of power in this administration, even the Attorney General who is tasked with protecting the civil rights of all Americans", Dinielli told ABC News. Discrimination against transgender people is sex discrimination, just as DOJ recognized years ago.

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