ACLU Statement on Department of Justice Licensing Discrimination in the Name of Religion

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WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice today issued guidance to federal agencies encouraging a dangerously broad interpretation of religious freedom laws that will open the door to discrimination against LGBT people, women, and religious minorities.

The guidance is a follow-up to President Trump’s May executive order that signaled an intent to expand religious exemptions. Signed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, it directs federal agencies to interpret federal law protections consistent with broad sweeping principles set forth in its guidance.

American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Louise Melling had the following reaction:

“This guidance isn’t consistent with religious freedom. Religious freedom protects our right to our beliefs, not a right to discriminate or harm others. This guidance turns that understanding of religious freedom on its head.

“This guidance, for example, interprets federal law to countenance discrimination that is not now sanctioned and it encourages private groups to discriminate with government funds. In short, it licenses discrimination against the LGBT community, women seeking reproductive care, and religious minorities. That is not the business of the Department of Justice.”

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