There’s been no shortage of speculation over a purported plan by the White House to release an executive order addressing the balance between religious liberty and gay rights.
And now a former member of President Donald Trump’s transition team is claiming that the order — which some assumed was dead — could end up coming down the pike in an amended form. But before we dive into that, let’s establish some background.
Debate first raged in early February when a draft of an order the Trump administration was reportedly considering was leaked to the press. The central premise of the draft was that the government wouldn’t force organizations or people to engage in activities that would “violate their conscience,” the Huffington Post reported.
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Titled, “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom,” the proposal would have provided protections for various religious groups — shields that would have riled some, considering that it would have potentially impacted Christian adoption agencies, and employee health benefits when it came to issues like abortion and birth control, among other issues.
The Nation warned that the executive order would “legalize discrimination,” and wrote the following about the measure:
The four-page draft order, a copy of which is currently circulating among federal staff and advocacy organizations, construes religious organizations so broadly that it covers “any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations,” and protects “religious freedom” in every walk of life: “when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.”
But fears and debate over the purported executive order tempered a bit after reports indicated that Trump had backed away from the measure, with the president openly pledging to uphold protections for the LGBTQ community that were put in place by Obama in 2014; these provisions impact workers affiliated with federal contractors, as Politico reported.
That said, the Huffington Post noted on Sunday that former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell — who also served as domestic policy chair of Trump’s transition team — recently said that the religious freedom order might not be as dead as some assumed.
In fact, Blackwell said that people affiliated with the White House are “in the process of redrafting it.”
“In the final analysis, what we want is an executive order that will meet the scrutiny of the judicial process,” Blackwell told SiriusXM Progress. “If there is no executive order, that will disappoint (social conservatives). But a good executive order will not. So we’re still in the process.”
He continued, “I think small business owners who hold a religious belief that believes that traditional marriage is between one man and one woman should not have their religious liberty trampled upon. I would imagine that that will be, strongly and clearly, the anchor concept (of the order).”
Whether or not this comes to fruition remains to be seen, though social conservatives have been clamoring for more protections, particularly for wedding-related businesses owned by Christians who oppose same-sex nuptials.
(H/T: Huffington Post)
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