Earlier this week, the White House was adamant that President Bannon would not be allowed to take away workplace protections for LGBTQ Americans after reports that his lackey, Donald Trump, was planning on reversing a 2014 Obama order on the subject. “President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of L.G.B.T.Q. rights, just as he was throughout the election," the forceful statement, which was reportedly prompted by Trump's insistence to keep the order in place, read. "The president is proud to have been the first ever G.O.P. nominee to mention the L.G.B.T.Q. community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression."
But now, a copy of a draft executive order titled "Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom" has been leaked, prompting new fears for LGBTQ people under Trump. The four-page draft order, which has been circulating among federal staff and advocacy organizations and published by The Nation, would essentially invalidate all existing governmental protections for LGBTQ people.
The Nation writes: "The draft order seeks to create wholesale exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious or moral objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, and trans identity, and it seeks to curtail women’s access to contraception and abortion through the Affordable Care Act."
It is a treasure trove of horrors that expands the definition of "religious exercise" so that it extends to "any act or refusal to act that is motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, whether or not the act is required or compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief." You can read the entire document below.
When asked about this executive order on Monday, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer responded, "I’m not getting ahead of the executive orders that we may or may not issue. There is a lot of executive orders, a lot of things that the president has talked about and will continue to fulfill, but we have nothing on that front now." This sort of tactic—throwing out extremist demands, and then walking back parts of it based on public reaction—seems to be par for the course with the Trump administration so far, but still leaves open the very real possibility that this EO (or some version of it) could become law.
That about sums it up. pic.twitter.com/XpvC5mschE
— David Weiner (@daweiner) January 8, 2017
"If anything in this document were to become federal law, it would be a national license to discriminate, and it would endanger LGBTQ people and their families," said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president and CEO, in a statement to ABC. The order would declare it to be "policy" of the administration that "Americans and their religious organizations will not be coerced by the Federal Government into participating in activities that violate their conscience, and will remain free to express their viewpoints without suffering adverse treatment from the Federal Government."
White House officials confirmed to ABC that the EO was real, but cautioned that it was one of hundreds that were circulating and not necessarily reflective of the administration. Then again, everything Trump has done so far—most prominently with the immigration and refugee ban that predominantly affects Muslim people and seems to have been borne of a desire for a "Muslim ban", but also with his SCOTUS pick—implies that this may be closer to their thinking than not.
While only time will tell which EOs Bannon ultimately decides to push forward, there are several protests scheduled this weekend already lined up. There will be an LGBTQ Solidarity Rally held in front of the Stonewall Inn on Saturday at 2 p.m.—organizers note this could be moved forward if this EO is issued before then.