Department of Justice “License to Discriminate” Guidance Released, Placing Millions of LGBTQ Americans at Risk

Family Equality Council calls on all Americans to stand up against this assault on our rights, and make clear that we oppose discrimination in all its forms.

October 6, 2017 — For Immediate Release

NEW YORK — Family Equality Council strongly condemns new guidance issued by the Department of Justice today that grants a broad “license to discriminate” to federal agencies, contractors, and grantees, placing millions of LGBTQ Americans and their families at risk.

The groundwork for today’s sweeping guidance was laid by an Executive Order signed by President Trump on May 4, instructing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to overlook, permit, or even invite taxpayer-funded discrimination against the LGBTQ community, under the guise of protecting religious beliefs.

“Let us be crystal clear: religious freedom is a foundational value in American society, which is why religious freedom is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution,” said Rev. Stan J. Sloan, an Episcopal priest and Family Equality Council CEO, responding to today’s announcement. “Yet protecting religious freedom does not extend to imposing your religious beliefs on others, let alone harming or discriminating against others based on your religious beliefs. This license to discriminate guidance runs counter to who we are as Americans, and is opposed by a broad majority of Americans who support legal protections from discrimination for LGBTQ people.”

Instead of acting to protect the vulnerable, the DOJ’s guidance casts those who seek to discriminate as those in need of protection. This guidance offers “protection” to a federal contractor who would deny family medical leave to care for an LGBTQ employee’s spouse; to a Section 8 landlord who evicts tenants because they’re LGBTQ; or could invite child welfare agency workers to refuse to place youth in care with lesbian moms.

“The current pace of attacks on the LGBTQ community from the Trump Administration and the Executive Branch is unprecedented,” said Denise Brogan-Kator, Chief Policy Officer. “Today’s guidance came on the heels of yesterday’s DOJ memo making clear the Department would no longer act to protect transgender people from workplace discrimination, attempts to ban transgender people from military service, unsolicited briefs in Federal court opposing discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the ongoing erasure of LGBTQ people from government agency strategic plans, data collection efforts, and regulations.”

Family Equality Council calls on all Americans — the LGBTQ community, our families, friends and allies, our neighbors, and our elected officials — to stand up against this assault on our rights, and make clear that we oppose discrimination in all its forms.

About Family Equality Council

Family Equality Council advances legal and lived equality for LGBTQ families, and for those who wish to form them, through building community, changing hearts and minds, and driving policy change. Family Equality Council believes every LGBTQ person should have the right and opportunity to form and sustain a loving family, regardless of who they are or where they live.