Trump’s administration isn’t bothering to clearly define what a religious institution is
Sadly, Donald Trump remains in power and continues to do serious harm to the country every single day.
Case in point: Trump is working furiously to make it easier and legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people for “faith-based” reasons. At issue is the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and the scrubbing of protections for LGBTQ employees issued in 2014 by President Barack Obama. In short, Trump is giving federal contractors the green light to discriminate as they see fit.
Fun fact: Eugene Scalia heads the Department of Labor under Trump. Yes, that’s the son of Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court Justice who, in his dissenting opinion on Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that legalized marriage equality, wrote that “public debate over same-sex marriage displayed American democracy at its best.”
Ah, yes. I remember those days when people debated whether or not LGBTQ people were even human or just sexual deviants who should be jailed/murdered/cured. I definitely felt like I was living in a freer America when there weren’t laws that granted me civil rights and protected me from discrimination based on these hateful ideas.
Oh, wait, did I say hateful ideas? I meant deeply held religious beliefs.
According to Lamba Legal, Trump’s administration isn’t bothering to clearly define what a religious institution is, which “allows contractors—including large for-profit companies—to use the special treatment designed for religious organizations.”
Oh, and they also aren’t bothering to separate the kinds of discrimination religious organizations are welcome to engage in. While it is widely believed that the scrapping of protections is intended to harm LGBTQ folks, the net is actually much wider.
“It is hard to overstate the harm that the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is visiting on LGBTQ people, women, religious minorities and others with the sledgehammer it is taking to federal nondiscrimination protections,” Lambda Legal Director of Law and Policy Jennifer Pizer said in a Dec. 7 statement.
And while this might seem to be just an obscure rule, it will actually apply to a lot of employees in this country. You may or may not know this, but a lot of people work for the federal government. Well, I should clarify: a lot of people are employed by the federal government. We’ve seen over these past four years that Republicans don’t work.
“There are almost 4 million employees who work for federal contractors, including another 1.6 million who work for federal grantees impacted by this rule,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Sasha Buchert said in a statement. “Already, from 1/3 to 1/2 of the 8.1 million LGBTQ employees nationwide report facing discrimination on the job. This rule effectively allows almost any federal contractor to claim a right to fire a person, deny health benefits or take other forms of discriminatory action for marrying a same-sex partner or coming out as transgender, or who the employer or would-be employer discovers is transgender, for living in accordance with their gender identity.”
It’s important to remember that with the Trump Administration, the cruelty is the point. This rule isn’t lifting a burden off of religious institutions; it’s putting a burden on LGBTQ people.
Let’s remember that “religious freedom,” much like mask-wearing, has been politicized by the Republican Party in the United States. The only acceptable religion when it comes to freedom is Christianity. And the most important freedom is the ability to use Christianity to justify bigotry and hurt people who don’t fall under the umbrella of Christian, white, heterosexual, and cisgender.
“This new rule uses religion to create an essentially limitless exemption allowing taxpayer-funded contractors to impose their religious beliefs on their employees without regard to the resulting harms, such as unfair job terms, invasive proselytizing and other harassment that make job settings unbearable for workers targeted on religious grounds,” said Pizer.
A deeply held religious belief isn’t, “Oh, I really like this part of the Bible when Jesus does the loaves and fishes and stuff.” It’s, “Oh, the Bible says there are only two genders, so I don’t have to hire transgender people. And also, too, transgender people aren’t even human and are sick and disgusting. I don’t want them near my children. And if they are faced with violence and even murder, well, they just brought that upon themselves by going against God’s will.” And by “God’s will,” that means “my personal opinion.” Oh, and the Bible doesn’t say anything about there only being two genders or about same-sex marriage being evil. That’s an interpretation.
It’s worth noting that to these folks, it is also a deeply held religious belief that Trump won the 2020 election. He didn’t. Thank God.