Tag Archives: discriminate

Draft order exposes White House plan to license anti-LGBT discrimination

The White House this week said it would not roll-back Obama administration protections for LGBTQ people employed by the federal government or its contractors. However, the statement from the Trump administration provided no comfort in the wake of a rash of discriminatory executive orders signed by the president in his first weeks in the Oval Office.

More orders may come, as hundreds of draft documents are circulating at the White House, including one reported the week of Jan. 30 that would allow people to discriminate based on religious beliefs and values.

Such an executive order “is a charter for widespread and divisive discrimination, against LGBTQ people and frankly against everyone. It is designed to destroy lives and roll-back fundamental rights,” the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Force said in a statement Feb. 1.

The White House, on Jan. 31 said Donald Trump would keep Barack Obama’s directive protecting LGBTQ employees of federal contractors. “President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election,” the statement read.

The statement runs contrary to Trump’s actions. He chose for his vice president Mike Pence, whose political record against LGBT equality goes back years and who, as governor of Indiana, signed legislation to sanction faith-based discrimination.

Trump’s cabinet picks include a mix of right-wing conservatives with anti-gay records and positions, including Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos, as does his nominee for Supreme Court.

Also, says Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin, the administration has not answered whether it will rebuff requests from the Christian right for an order sanctioning their discrimination against LGBTQ people.

Griffin was referring to media reports of a draft “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom” order that would allow an unprecedented expansion of tax-payer funded discrimination.

“The leaked draft of Donald Trump’s License to Discriminate order is sweeping and dangerous,” Griffin said. “It reads like a wishlist from some of the most radical anti-equality activists. If true, it seems this White House is poised to wildly expand anti-LGBTQ discrimination across all facets of the government — even if he does maintain the Obama executive order.”

Griffin added, “If Donald Trump goes through with even a fraction of this order, he’ll reveal himself as a true enemy to LGBTQ people. We’ve already seen that the Trump administration is willing to go after women, immigrants, people of color and most frighteningly, people who disagree with him. If this version is true this could represent another chilling attempt to go after LGBTQ people, federal employees, employees of federal contractors and people served by federal programs funded with taxpayer dollars.”

ABC News obtained a copy of the four-page draft order and reported that it also would allow companies to refuse to provide contraceptive coverage as part of employee health plans and allow tax-exempt entities — such as churches — to engage “on moral or political issues from a religious perspective” without fear of losing their tax status.

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said such an order would go against the Constitution.

“It has long been established that our Constitution protects the free exercise of religion, but those protections do not create the right to cause harm to others,” Nadler said on Feb. 1. “Protections for religious freedom must be shields to protect the practice of religion, not swords to enable one person to force his or her religious beliefs on others. No matter how sincerely held a religious belief may be, employers — including the federal government — must not be permitted to wield them as a means of discriminating against their employees or against those they serve.

Judge orders release of anti-gay clerk Kim Davis from jail

U.S. District Judge David Bunning on Sept. 8 ordered the release of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis from federal custody and ordered her not to “interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.”

Davis was sent to jail last week after being found in contempt of court for refusing to comply with the law on same-sex marriage. She has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing her religious beliefs and in violation of her sworn oath of office in Kentucky.

In her quest to be allowed to continue to discriminate against gays and lesbians, Davis was denied stays at all levels of federal court, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

After she went to jail last week, staff in her office began issuing marriage licenses.

“It is imperative that Kim Davis follow the law and allow same-sex couples to access their constitutional right to marry the person they love. Period,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign. “While Davis has the right to believe whatever she likes, as a public official she has no legal basis to refuse to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. The overwhelming majority of public officials across this country are following the law, and history will not judge her kindly. It’s far past time for this needless ordeal to end.”

William Sharp, legal director of the ACLU of Kentucky, said “This case was brought to ensure that all residents of Rowan County, gay and straight, could obtain marriage licenses. That goal has been achieved. The Kentucky attorney general and counsel for Rowan County have said the marriage licenses are valid. We are relying on those representations, and our clients look forward to proceeding with their plans to marry.”

Appeals court reverses ruling that allowed N.C. voting changes before midterm

The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals this week reversed a lower court ruling that had allowed provisions of North Carolina’s restrictive voting law to go into effect before the midterm election.

The appeals court order restores same-day registration and reinstates out-of-precinct provisional voting on Voting Rights Act grounds.

North Carolina passed a restrictive voting law in August 2013, which the ACLU and Southern Coalition for Social Justice challenged. The groups challenged provisions in the law that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration and prohibit out-of-precinct voting Their complaint is that implementing these provisions would unduly burden the right to vote and discriminate against African-American voters, in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and the federal Voting Rights Act.

In recent elections, North Carolinians could register or update their registration information and vote in one trip to an early voting site. In both 2008 and 2012, about 250,000 people did so. African-Americans disproportionately relied on same-day registration in both elections.

“The court’s order safeguards the vote for tens of thousands of North Carolinians. It means they will be able to continue to use same-day registration, just as they have during the last three federal elections,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

“This is a victory for voters in the state of North Carolina,” said Southern Coalition for Social Justice staff attorney Allison Riggs. “The court has rebuked attempts to undermine voter participation.”

The case, League of Women Voters of North Carolina v. North Carolina, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

Pentagon: All national guards offering benefits to same-sex spouses

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Dec. 13 announced that all states would comply with Pentagon policy and offer equal benefits to married couples.

The announcement followed weeks of dispute involving national guard programs in some states where constitutional amendments have been passed that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

In Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Louisiana and other states, guard officials and state leaders had announced earlier this fall that they would be denying same-sex couples benefits in defiance of the Pentagon policy and the Supreme Court decision overturning the federal ban on recognizing same-sex marriages.

Hagel, in a statement released from the White House, said following consultations between the National Guard Bureau and the adjutants general of the states, all eligible service members, dependents and retirees — including same-sex spouses — are now able to obtain ID cards in every state.

The secretary added, “All military spouses and families sacrifice on behalf of our country. They deserve our respect and the benefits they are entitled to under the law.  All of DoD is committed to pursuing equal opportunities for all who serve this nation, and I will continue to work to ensure our men and women in uniform as well as their families have full and equal access to the benefits they deserve.”

UPS cuts Boy Scouts funding over discrimination

The philanthropic arm of UPS said it will cease donating to the Boy Scouts as long as the group continues to discriminate against gays.

UPS is the second major corporation to recently strip funding from the Scouts. Intel took the same action earlier this year.

Both companies changed course after Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout with two mothers and founder of the group Scouts for Equality, began petitions at Change.org calling for corporations to end their financial support of the BSA. 

Other groups took up the cause, including GLAAD, which has highlighted the case of a lesbian mother in Ohio barred from volunteering with her son’s Cub Scout pack.

The Atlanta-based UPS Foundation gave more than $85,000 to the BSA in 2011, according to its federal tax return.

“Corporate America gets it better than most: Policies that discriminate aren’t simply wrong, they’re bad for business and they’re hurting the scouting community,” Wahls said following the UPS announcement.

UPS spokeswoman Kristen Petrella said groups applying for the foundation grants must adhere to the same standards UPS does by not discriminating against anyone based on race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

“We promote an environment of diversity and inclusion,” Petrella said. “UPS is a company that does the right things for the right reasons.”

Petrella said the company had been concerned about discrimination by the BSA before the petition drive.

The Scouts said this summer it was sticking with its long-standing policy of excluding openly gay youth and adults.

Deron Smith, the director of public relations for the Texas-based BSA, said the group was disappointed about the decision from UPS.

“These types of contributions go directly to serving young people in local councils and this decision will negatively impact youth,” Smith said. “Through 110,000 units, Scouting represents millions of youth and adult members in diverse communities across the nation, each with a variety of beliefs on this topic.”

The policy of excluding gays has come under increased scrutiny within the last month, as thousands of confidential files released as part of a lawsuit show top leaders for decades tracked thousands of scoutmasters and volunteers who sexually abused boys in their care but routinely failed to report them.