The White House called Donald Trump a “champion of religious freedom” in a recently released fact sheet touting a record widely criticized as anti-LGBTQ.
The fact sheet, which was posted to the government’s official website on Thursday, applauds the Trump administration for defending the right to discriminate against queer and trans people in the name of religion. Included are the administration’s support of a Christian baker who turned away a gay couple and a recent move allowing healthcare workers to refuse service if doing so would conflict with their “conscience.”
The Justice Department filed an amicus brief in favor of Jack Phillips, a Lakewood, Colo. baker who was found to be in violation of the state’s civil rights laws after denying service to Charlie Craig and David Mullins, who requested a cake for their wedding. Phillips believes doing so would violate his Constitutional rights and took the matter to the Supreme Court.
The DOJ agrees, siding with the cakeshop owner ahead of December oral arguments before SCOTUS.
“Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights,” wrote Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall in a September brief.
The White House concluded in the Thursday fact sheet that the administration had stood up for people of religious faith in doing so.
“In his first year in office, President Trump has taken strong action to restore the foundational link between freedom and faith in the United States of America,” the federal government claims in the document, which doesn’t appear to be tied to a newly announced policy.
The Trump administration also touted its recent reshuffling of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, which it claims will provide the department with “the focus it needs to more vigorously and effectively enforce existing laws protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom.”
As INTO previously reported, that move stands to have dangerous and sweeping impacts on members of the LGBTQ community by allowing care providers to deny them treatment, particular people living with HIV and trans individuals.
These populations already experience extraordinary discrimination when seeking even basic medical care.
Surveys conducted by the National Center for Trans Equality found that nearly one in five trans people (19 percent) have been turned away by providers. More than a quarter of respondents (28 percent) said they had been harassed or threatened when accessing health care, and the same percentage say they put off going to the doctor in fear of prejudicial treatment.
LGBTQ advocates criticized the White House’s “religious freedom” document after its release.
“Trump has assembled one of the most anti-LGBTQ administrations in recent history and has stopped at nothing to court fringe activists united around their desire to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans and erase the LGBTQ community’s hard-fought progress,” said President and CEO of GLAAD Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement.
“Today’s document shows this is not a secret agenda, but rather something Trump proudly boasts as he continues to lead a culture war against LGBTQ Americans and other vulnerable communities,” she continued.
President Trump is frequently criticized for rolling back LGBTQ rights in his first year as presidentfrom Obama-era guidance allowing transgender students to use bathrooms which correspond with their gender identity in schools to his failed ban on open trans military service. During the 2016 election, he vowed to be a “friend” to queer people.