February 27, 2017 at 4:59 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Spicer hints at coming action on anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ order
Sean Spicer, gay news, Washington Blade

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says he expects something on a “religious freedom” executive order.

Amid renewed concerns President Trump would sign a “religious order” undermining LGBT rights, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday he expects the administration would soon “have something.”

Spicer made the remarks in response to a question from the Daily Signal, an arm of the anti-LGBT Heritage Foundation, on whether the order is still coming and whether it would extend beyond the Johnson Amendment, a law Trump has pledged to repeal barring churches from making political endorsements.

“I think we’ve discussed executive orders in the past, and for the most part, we’re not going to get into discussing what may or may not come until we’re ready to announce it,” Spicer replied. “So, I’m sure as we move forward we’ll have something.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the “something” to which Spicer was referring was an actual executive order or a statement on a policy position for the way forward.

Although Trump initially passed up the opportunity to sign a proposed anti-LGBT “religious freedom” executive order at the time of the National Prayer Breakfast during the start of the administration, a recent report in The Huffington Post raised concerns a different order will come soon.

The report quotes Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow at the anti-LGBT Family Research Council who oversaw domestic policy for the Trump transition team, from an interview he had with Sirius XM’s Michelangelo Signorile in which Blackwell says the order is being redrafted and on the way.

“In the final analysis, what we want is an executive order that will meet the scrutiny of the judicial process,” Blackwell is quoted as saying. “If there is no executive order, that will disappoint [social conservatives]. But a good executive order will not. So we’re still in the process.”

Blackwell reportedly said the former director of Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty, Ken Klukowski, had “actually structured” the initial draft order as a legal adviser to Trump’s transition team and is now one of the lawyers “in the process of redrafting it.” Klukowski is now a senior attorney at the Liberty First Institute and a contributor to Breitbart, a conservative website.

The “anchor concept” of the order, Blackwell is quoted as saying, is a directive allowing people in the course of business to refuse services to LGBT people out of religious objections.

“I think small business owners who hold a religious belief that traditional marriage is between one man and one woman should not have their religious liberty trampled upon,” he explained. “I would imagine that that will be, strongly and clearly, the anchor concept [of the order].”

No federal law prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of gender, sexual orientation or gender identity and an executive order like this would send a signal to individuals they should feel free to discriminate. A federal “religious freedom” executive order wouldn’t preempt state laws barring anti-LGBT discrimination.

Klukowski is also quoted in the Huffington Post article as saying he’s “not at liberty to speak about” the order specifically, but nonetheless expressed confidence Trump would act to protect religious freedom both through judicial appointments and possibly administrative actions.

“And I’m confident,” Klukowski reportedly said, “that the president is showing ― much to the shock of many establishment people who said, ‘There’s no way this’ll happen’ ― that he keeps his promises, even when they’re things that an establishment player would never do. And I’m confident that he’s going to keep his promise when it comes to protection of religious liberty as well.”

Last month, a draft executive order began circulating among federal advocacy groups that would allow persons and religious organizations — broadly defined to include for-profit companies — to discriminate on the basis of religious objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion and transgender identity.

At the time, the White House downplayed the draft executive order and said Trump wouldn’t sign it — at least for the time being. Media reports circulated that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kuskner convinced Trump not to sign the “religious freedom” order and the president wasn’t ever seriously considering doing so.

The White House issued a statement saying Trump would preserve the Obama-era order against workplace discrimination among federal contractors and is “respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights.” That pledge of support was undermined after the administration later rescinded guidance protecting transgender students from discrimination at schools.

Olivia Dalton, the Human Rights Campaign’s senior vice president for communications and marketing, said renewed plans for an anti-LGBT “religious freedom” order shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“Donald Trump and Mike Pence have repeatedly threatened the LGBTQ community, and by their own admission this ‘license to discriminate’ order has been circulating for weeks,” Dalton said. “No one should be surprised — their despicable attack on transgender kids last week showed just how low they’re willing to go.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

4 Comments
  • So a person associated with the FRC regularly contributes to Breibart. Is that surprising?! This is what right-wing Breibart promoters on this website would have us support? Don’t let them dupe you!

    One way or another, you will get a religious freedom order from Trump’s administration or introduced through Congress. Any religious freedom order will be enforced and said to “trump” any laws that prohibit anti-LGBT rights laws. Not to mention they will be used to prevent passage of future LGBT rights laws including an Equality Act.

  • if sPCIER DOES NOT ENFORCE THE CONSTITUTION ‘S DOGMA THAT WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE FREE OF RELIGION AND HAVE NO INFLUENCE OF IN OUR LIVES–HE SHOULD BE FIRED AND REMOVED. YES, WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO WORSHIP FREELY WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF LAW i(THAT MEANS YOU CANNOT MURDER AS A SACRIFICE SO THE SUN COMES UP THE NEXT DAY AS IN THE OLD AZTEC RELIGION.

    DONNIE BOY IS A VERY BAD BOY JUST AND AS MUCH AS ALL THOSE ‘BAD FOLKS’ HE IS SENDING (TRYING TO ) BACK TO MEXICO. if YOU DO NOT TAKE ACTION TO REMOVE HIM–THEN YOUR RIGHTS COULD BE NEXT JUST LIKE REV. NEIMOLLER SAID: “Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak (DEFEND) for me.”

  • This is too close for confort. The religious conservatives are takeing advantage of Americans that are LBBTQ citizens, because they don’t respect us. They are doing the very same thing that ISIS is doing to Muslims that don’t conform. First they take our jobs, housing and public accommodations. Then they take our souls. And our lives. Religious conservatives are not the only people with needs and their needs are not mine and should never be forced apron myself or others. Religion is no reason to discriminate and most of all its not a reason to deny other human beings anything

  • No one seem to care. I’ve been looking at this post and no comments have come in since mine. The conservative religious freaks will pull this over on you and when your made to conform, well don’t say I didn’t tell you so. The idea of self righteous Christians saying your not deserving of anything this great country has to offer just sucks. And the sooner you come to the party the better off all LGBTQ citizens will be. Boycott Texas!

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