Jeff Sessions Says Civil Rights Act Doesn't Protect Trans Workers From Discrimination

A bump stock is attached to a semi-automatic

The Trump administration wasn't content to just maintain religious freedom when it comes to job placement.

"This blatant attempt to further Donald Trump's cynical and hateful agenda will enable systematic, government-wide discrimination that will have a devastating impact on LGBTQ people and their families".

In essence, it says that religious rights trump civil rights. "Except in the narrowest of circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law".

Sessions said that his guidelines would enhance the fundamental American principle of religious freedom.

"Under this guidance, federal agencies, government employees, contractors and grantees can take federal funds and discriminate at will, and the federal government will do nothing to stop it", Winnie Stachelberg, an executive vice president at the liberal Center for American Progress, said on a conference call.

News reports a Justice Department memo issued Wednesday states Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex, does not protect transgender people.

We can not be complacent or hope that this is just an anomaly: "we have a duty to take action", said United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions. "Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se", Sessions wrote to U.S. attorneys across the country in a memo obtained by BuzzFeed.

However, he added, "this guidance strengthens the hand of those who would argue that this sort of thing violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment".

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Sessions issued the guidance as a result of an executive order President Donald Trump signed in May empowering the attorney general to issue religious freedom guidance. "A license to discriminate goes against our core American values and I fear that the guidance the Justice Department issued today is not created to help agencies comply with the law, but rather to give them greater leeway to condone discrimination against LGBTQ people, women and others".

The free exercise of religion includes the right to act or not to act in accordance with one's religious beliefs.

However, the legal memo suggests that the government's legal authority to forbid racial discrimination may not be as strong as its authority to target other forms of discrimination, such as bias against women or LGBT individuals. Courts have repeatedly ruled that transgender people are protected by sex discrimination laws in employment, education, housing and healthcare. Trump himself hasn't generally expressed the animus towards LGBT people that he's shown for Mexicans, Muslims, and women, and sometimes quite the opposite-promising, for instance, to protect the community after a gunman killed 49 people in a Florida nightclub during his election campaign.

The White House said later that Trump doesn't agree (paywall) with Moore's position on homosexuality, but that's hard to tell from the administration's actions.

The Department of Justice today issued a guidance document on religious freedom that actually creates a broad license to discriminate against LGBT people, single mothers, and others. But the new guidance, demonstrating the unsafe distortion of religious liberty by the Supreme Court's conservatives in the Hobby Lobby case, redefines "significant burden" to essentially cover being offended.

- Arguing in court that firing an employee for being gay was justified.

So if the government can make a case that it has a compelling interest (like protecting public safety) and that it's taking the least restrictive means to do so it can require people to obey a law that hospitals not turn away gay or transgender people, for example. Agencies like the State Department, where many employees have historically been reticent to talk about the role religion in global problems, could be affected by this, Destro said.

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