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GLSEN Statement on Religious EO
GLSEN Statement on Signed Executive Order Legalizing Partisan Electoral Activism by Religious Organizations
NEW YORK (May 4, 2017) – In response to today’s executive order signed by President Trump allowing religious organizations to engage in partisan electoral activism, GLSEN’s Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard issued the following statement.
“Once again the LGBTQ community is moved to celebrate the idea that we have dodged a bullet. And once again this administration has taken another step down a dangerous slippery slope, undermining safeguards against discrimination and the intrusion of partisan politics into our faith communities and other aspects of civic life designed to serve the needs of all of the American public. We join with many in the religious and civil rights communities opposing this action.
“GLSEN is relieved that the threats against LGBTQ people and basic American values embedded in the draft executive order leaked in February have not yet been publicly endorsed by President Trump with action. But we remain deeply concerned by today’s Executive Order both in its substance and its hints to what lies ahead, as evidenced by the component of today’s Executive Order charging Attorney General Sessions to ‘issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.’ Such language suggests President Trump is eager to continue finding ways to provide religious exemptions, possibly for individuals and companies, and create a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
“Under the newly signed order, churches and other houses of worship will now be able to engage in political campaigning without fear of losing their tax-exempt status with the IRS. Significant numbers of faith leaders oppose this action, with 1,300 faith leaders signing an open letter to President Trump in support of the Johnson Amendment. Additionally, 71 percent of Americans oppose allowing religious organizations to endorse political candidates while maintaining tax-exempt status. Clearly our partners of religious faith and the American people understand that President Trump’s actions today undermine the fundamentally American separation of church and state, and, of great concern to GLSEN specifically, empower certain institutions within the faith community that have been overtly and aggressively hostile to the rights and wellbeing of LGBTQ youth.
“The Executive Order also launches an attack on contraceptive coverage in healthcare plans. This move has a direct impact on LGBTQ youth and a disproportionate impact on women and girls, denying them full control over their own bodies and healthcare.
“As a matter of process, the development of this Executive Order seems to have been driven by the demands of the calendar rather than a sober consideration of the public interest. While I am relieved that LGBTQ people may have dodged a fatal shot to our rights, no one wins when fundamental rights and American values are undermined or preserved based on which constituencies can shout the loudest or who has the President’s ear last.
“GLSEN condemns the Trump Administration for today’s Executive Order and stands firmly with our allies in the faith and women’s communities who took the brunt of today’s action.”
GLSEN champions safe and affirming schools for all students. We envision a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Each year, GLSEN programs and resources reach hundreds of thousands of K-12 students across the United States, and our network of chapters brings GLSEN’s expertise to their local communities. GLSEN's progress and impact have won support for our work at all levels of education in the United States and sparked an international movement to ensure equality for LGBTQ students and respect for all in schools. For more information on GLSEN’s policy advocacy, student leadership initiatives, public education, research and educator training programs, please visit glsen.org.