Society

Trump Preparing To Sign Religious Liberty Order

| by Jordan Smith

President Donald Trump is likely to sign a religious liberty executive order, which has been criticized by opponents for increasing the likelihood of discrimination.

The text of the order has been kept tightly under wraps after a previous version was leaked in February, Yahoo News reported.

The leak to the Nation magazine led to significant protests from LGBT groups and advocates.

However, reports suggest that changes to the language of the new draft have not had much impact on the order overall, and that Trump could sign it May 4.

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"The language is very, very strong," a conservative source told Politico.

The February draft proposed "wholesale exemptions from [anti-discrimination statutes] for people and organizations who claim religious or moral objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, and trans identity," according to a Nation report cited by Yahoo.

After the leak put a temporary hold on the administration's plans, Vice President Mike Pence began working on the new draft with advisers.

Some religious groups are expressing doubts about the Trump administration's ability to adopt such a law.

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"I don't think he cares about the thing that matters most to us, and that is religious liberty," Rod Dreher, a Christian author, said of Trump, Yahoo News reported.

"I think it's going to be a bitter harvest for us," he added.

Questions remain over Pence's ability to pass a religious liberty measure. He is viewed as a close ally of the evangelical movement.

As Governor of Indiana, Pence signed a religious liberty order into law, but was forced to back down in the face of strong public opposition.

Some sources have suggested that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were behind the leak in early February, both of whom are seen as aligned with LGBT groups on this issue.

"The Jared and Ivanka thing, that's real," one congressional aid said.

Another suggested Kushner was blocking the order.

"President Jared has it on hold. I haven't seen any evidence that Pence has the pull to trump Jared," they told Yahoo.

The signing of the order may help appease religious groups who were unhappy that the spending bill agreed between Republicans and Democrats continued to fund Planned Parenthood, an organization which has frequently been targeted by anti-abortion protesters.

Republican lawmakers have been urging Trump to implement the religious liberty order.

51 Republicans wrote to Trump in April to "request that you sign the draft executive order on religious liberty, as reported by numerous outlets on February 2, 2017, in order to protect millions of Americans whose religious freedom has been attacked or threatened over the last eight years," according to USA Today.

The White House denied that Trump would overturn protections for LGBT federal workers.

"The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump," a statement said in February.

Sources: Politico, Yahoo News, USA Today / Photo credit: D. Myles Cullen/Wikimedia Commons

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