How Trump Uses “Religious Liberty” to Attack L.G.B.T. Rights

In Mississippi, House Bill 1523, also known as the Religious Liberty
Accommodations Act, also known as the Protecting Freedom of
Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, goes into effect this
week. It explicitly legalizes discrimination if it is motivated by one
of three beliefs: that marriage is a union between one man and one
woman, that sexual relations can take place only within such a marriage,
and that gender is an immutable biological characteristic. The law was
passed last year and immediately blocked by a federal judge, but last
week a circuit court reversed the ruling. Doctors, lawyers, and adoption
agencies, among others, are now licensed to discriminate on the basis of
sexual and gender identity.

Mississippi’s is the harshest of a recent wave of so-called
religious-freedom laws; its enactment is only the latest blow to the
rights of L.G.B.T. Americans in what has felt like a year of injuries.
In February, the Trump Administration rescinded protections allowing
transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice. In May,
President Trump signed an executive
order
directing his Attorney General to support and defend religious-freedom
laws like the one in Mississippi. In July, Trump tweeted out a ban on
transgender service members
. In September, the Justice Department filed
a Supreme Court brief in support of a Colorado baker who refused to make
a cake for a same-sex wedding. This month, Attorney General Jeff
Sessions issued detailed
guidelines based on Trump’s religious-freedom executive order and, separately,
instructed U.S. Attorneys to stop interpreting federal law as protecting
transgender employees from discrimination on the basis of sex. This
timeline is probably missing something; reversals in L.G.B.T. rights
have been unremitting.

Less than a year ago—one week before the election—Trump unfurled a
rainbow
flag
,
albeit upside down, during a rally in Colorado. Someone had scribbled
the words “LGBTs for Trump” on it. For much…

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