Trump Should Rescind Obama’s Transgender Order and Protect Religious Liberty

(Reuters photo)

The media was abuzz yesterday with rumors that President Donald Trump was preparing an executive order that would protect religious liberty in the aftermath of the redefinition of marriage.

Trump should issue such an executive order, and he should rescind former President Barack Obama’s executive actions on sexual orientation and gender identity that created many of these problems in the first place.

While a candidate, Trump promised to sign the First Amendment Defense Act into law. He needn’t simply wait for Congress. Although legislation provides the best long-term protections, Trump can lawfully enact many of those protections through an executive order right now.

Such an order would instruct agencies of the federal government that they may not penalize certain individuals and institutions for acting on the conviction that marriage is the union of husband and wife.

Such an executive order, like the First Amendment Defense Act itself, should strike a careful balance as to whom and when these protections apply. Under the First Amendment Defense Act, protected entities include individuals, nonprofit charities and privately held businesses.

The act, however, would not apply to federal employees and contractors with respect to their job or contract duties. It does allow reasonable accommodation of federal employees’ religion, as under current law, but it makes clear that it does not relieve the federal government of its duty to provide government services, medical care or benefits to all who qualify—it must simply respect conscience in doing so.

Trump’s executive order should do the same.

An executive order on religious liberty should also include protections found in the Russell Amendment. This would prevent the federal government from discriminating against faith-based social service providers who maintain staffing policies that accord with their faith.

Religious charities shouldn’t have to give up their mission and identity simply because they partner with the government in serving the public.

In addition to proactively protecting the rights of Americans to hire for religious mission and to act on the conviction that marriage is the union of husband and wife, Trump should also rescind the various Obama executive actions that caused these problems.

A statement from the Trump administration notes that Trump was the “first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.”

Trump can and should protect all Americans from violence and oppression, but he should not go along with Obama’s policies of elevating “sexual orientation and gender identity” to a protected class.

The First Amendment Defense Act and similar religious liberty provisions oppress no one—they protect Americans from government-sponsored discrimination and coercion.

For example, in 2014, Obama issued an executive order barring “discrimination” on the basis of “sexual orientation and gender identity” in the private employment policies of federal contractors.

But according to liberals advocating such policies, “discrimination” on the basis of “sexual orientation” can be something as reasonable as an adoption agency preferring married moms and dads for orphans.

And “discrimination” on the basis of “gender identity” can be something as simple as having a bathroom policy based on biological sex, not gender identity.

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SOURCE: Charisma News
Ryan T. Anderson, Heritage Foundation