Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a directive today that’ll give institutions and individuals the right refuse services to women and the LGBT community for those institutions that can argue that their religious freedoms are being violated.
According to the Associated Press, it will essentially lift a burden from religious objectors: A simple claim of a violation of religious freedom would be enough to outweigh possible civil rights violations, thus they'd no longer have to prove that their beliefs are sincerely held. A simple claim of a violation of religious freedom would be enough to "override concerns for the civil rights of LGBT people and anti-discrimination protections for women and others.”
To put it simply: Religion is being used as an excuse for discrimination.
As Buzzfeed explains, this isn’t a new law. Instead, it informs how the government should interpret existing federal law.
“Today the Trump-Pence administration launched an all-out assault on LGBTQ people, women, and other minority communities by unleashing a sweeping license to discriminate,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said.
“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. Donald Trump and Mike Pence have proven they will stop at nothing to target the LGBTQ community and drag our nation backwards. We will fight them every step of the way.”
How will this policy affect women and the LGBTQ+ community? The Associated Press explains that this document lays the groundwork for legal positions in future religious freedom cases, including those involving private workplaces, government jobs and running prisons.
The HRC gives such examples as religiously affiliated schools firing women for becoming pregnant while not married and reception halls closing their doors to same-sex couples planning their weddings. In essence, it can—and will—massively affect the LBGTQ+ community moving ahead.
This directive comes the same day as the Trump administration’s ruling that allows employers to opt out of providing free birth control to millions of Americans if it violates an employer or insurer’s "religious beliefs" or "moral convictions.”