Equality California: 'Today's executive order offers the LGBT community no reason to feel relief.'

Los Angeles - May 4, 2017 – In response to Donald Trump's executive order today greatly expanding the ability of tax-exempt religious organizations to engage in political activity, Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur issued the following statement:

"Our government was designed to respect everyone's right to follow the dictates of their faith while not favoring one religion over another. The precious freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment were never intended as a cudgel for use against anyone of whom followers of one religion or another don't approve.

While today's executive order isn't the frontal attack on LGBTQ civil rights that many were expecting, it still cloaks the erosion of a woman's control over her own body and, ultimately, discrimination against LGBTQ people in a false mantle of faith. Like Citizens United, it clouds who funds political campaigns, and allows religious organizations free reign for the first time to use charitable donations to engage in the political process to target anyone they find objectionable.

For that reason, today's executive order offers the LGBTQ community no reason to feel relief. Instead, it represents a further chipping away of the civil rights we worked so hard to achieve. After all, if an employer is free to deny a woman reproductive care on religious grounds, how far off is a validation of the firing of a man because he's gay, the slamming of a door in the face of a transgender woman seeking a place to rent or the refusing to marry a lesbian couple because a county clerk thinks that's what the Bible says to do?

Diversity of faith is one of our country's greatest strengths and freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental values. But that freedom does not include a right to impose your beliefs on others – to harm them – or to deprive them of their most basic dignity.

And we have no reason to believe that a broadside on LGBTQ civil rights won't come at some point in the future. This is still the most anti-LGBTQ administration in decades, with a cabinet that is a who's who of homophobia. Donald Trump has already rescinded rules protecting transgender students, gutted protections for LGBTQ employees of federal contractors, returned LGBTQ people to invisibility in the U.S. census and is threatening to undo regulations protecting transgender people from discrimination under the Affordable Care Act. Unraveling LGBTQ civil rights can happen relatively quietly, one piece at a time. We will not let down our guard."

Equality California is the nation's largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org

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