May 5, 2017 at 4:04 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
ACLU now says it won’t sue over Trump executive order
Trump's executive order, Surviving Trump, gay news, Washington Blade

President Donald Trump’s executive order ‘does not meaningfully alter the ability of religious institutions or individuals to intervene in the political process,’ said the ACLU.

After conducting a careful review of the “religious freedom” executive order that President Donald Trump signed on Thursday the ACLU says it has decided not to file an immediate lawsuit to challenge the order. In an earlier announcement, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said the ACLU planned to file a lawsuit on the day Trump issued the order on May 4.

“Today’s executive order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome,” Romero said in his follow-up statement. “After careful review of the order’s text we have determined that the order does not meaningfully alter the ability of religious institutions or individuals to intervene in the political process,” he said.

“The directive to federal agencies to explore religious-based exceptions to healthcare does cue up a potential for future battle,” Romero added, “but as of now, the status quo has not changed.”

He was referring to a provision in the order that directs U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime opponent of LGBT rights, to weigh in on interpreting the order’s impact on federal agencies. This provision in the order has alarmed LGBT advocacy organizations.

“In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in federal law,” the provision in the executive order states.

The Human Rights Campaign issued a legal analysis of the order made by its legal director, Sarah Warbelow, which says the provision in the order to be carried out by Sessions could undermine non-discrimination protections for LGBT people put in place under the Obama administration in numerous federal agencies. Warbelow couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

ACLU spokesperson Stephen Smith said Romero’s statement saying the Trump executive order would have no immediate impact on government policy wasn’t meant to contradict concerns raised by HRC and others. “We are not in disagreement with anyone,” he said. “There is resounding consensus that this order encourages agencies to cue up to potentially harmful things, but this order doesn’t create harmful policies in and of itself, which is why we did not file suit yesterday,” Smith told the Blade.

“And as our statement clearly states, we are keeping a close eye on what the future brings here,” he said. He was referring to Romero’s concluding comment in his updated statement, which says, “The ACLU stands ready to sue the Trump administration, and in the event that this order triggers any official government action at all, we will see Trump in court, again.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • The ACLU should stand ready to sue because the Trump agenda will give enough reason sooner or later!

    • “religious freedom” is garbage just bunch of mentally sick people who act like they own the world, negatively judge others who are different from them and thinking their lives are so perfect cause of their imaginary friend they call god which they suck up to for creating the world the way it is but find fault for no reason, most of them ignore what they’re beliefs say and end up wanting to do the opposite, if they’re “god” is so important they should stay focused on that and not the world, but for the most part they don’t even have any common sense to know that their god is not even proven and like to shove their “so-called” beliefs down people’s throats. we need political leaders that doesn’t support illogical ideals. what humans do is the same as what animals do, it’s all natural, the problem is that in today’s world people are not well educated on the naturality of the world through science which gives formulated proof, not assumptions and straightforward false information.

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