Over the past few days there has been extensive talk about an executive order by President Donald Trump that would roll back LGBTQ rights obtained under the Obama administration. First came the quiet chirps of hidden intelligence, received here at Watermark Jan. 30 verbatim via Facebook, Twitter and email. There were many corroborating reports with much of the same verbiage.
We reported that with due outrage, because… well, that’s what communities do. The following day, Jan. 31, reports surfaced from major sources proclaiming that the whole thing was a lie and Trump would support LGBTQ interests, at least on the federal employment level, as laid out by his predecessor, Barack Obama. All over the nation, people proclaimed once again that the media was making things up. The term “gaslighting” juxtaposed with “fascism” seemed a bit much for the modern populace, and so it was. Trump wasn’t ever intending to come after us. Commenters roiled, “George Soros is paying for all of this.” It was a mess that seemed to clean itself up in one news cycle.
Just after 7 p.m. Feb. 1, The Nation released photographed copies of said executive order against LGBTQ citizens. You can see the pictures below. This executive order would appear to require agencies to provide extensive exemptions from a staggering number of federal laws—without regard to whether such laws substantially burden religious exercise,” said Marty Lederman, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center and an expert on church-state separation and religious freedom, to The Nation.
The Nation did however update it’s story today with the following clause: Updated on 2/2/2017: A White House official, speaking with ABC News, did not dispute the authenticity of the draft religious freedom executive order, but officials said it is one of hundreds circulating, some drafted by the transition team, others by the White House, not all of which are likely to become policy. The official did not say who drafted this particular order.”
Today comes the news that Trump is (perhaps instead) intending to play the “religious freedom” card, vowing to dispense with any laws separating church and state, which, of course, implies that we’re still facing an uphill battle on all issues LGBTQ, Muslim or any minority, really. (He also prayed for ratings for The Apprentice at a prayer breakfast just one day after delivering a widely criticized speech about Black History Month.)
“President Trump vowed Thursday to overturn a law restricting political speech by tax-exempt churches, a potentially huge victory for the religious right and a gesture to his political base. Mr. Trump said his administration would ‘totally destroy’ the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches from engaging in political activity at the risk of losing their tax-exempt status,” the New York Times reports. “Repealing the law would require approval by Congress. Certain tax-exempt organizations — in this case, churches — are not allowed to openly endorse or campaign for political candidates. If they do, under existing law, they risk losing the benefits of their tax-exempt status.”
Religious freedom acts at the state level have been drawn in order to keep businesses from serving people who don’t match their religious beliefs, which in most cases includes Muslim citizens, LGBTQ citizens and anyone who doesn’t fall in line with the conservative state of affairs. This may be a bait-and-switch, but as with most things Trump, we won’t know until the gavel hits the podium. We’ll keep you updated as well as possible in these uncertain times.