Sessions gets law dead wrong on transgender protections

Mic Wakeup DOJ cuts transgender protections GOP takes hit in poll and a surprise from the NRA

The Justice Department and the EEOC took opposite sides in their respective amicus briefs as to whether sexual orientation should be considered sex discrimination under Title VII.

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. In a memo to the nation's federal prosecutors, Sessions says the law bars discrimination between men and women but does not extend to gender identity.

ADF lawyers have argued several cases before the Supreme Court and are now representing Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who is challenging the state's nondiscrimination protections after he was found in violation of the law for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012.

Though the principles are lofty - and some of them in no way objectionable - they could have broad negative impact, permitting religious groups to impinge on the rights of LGBT people and others, civil liberties advocates said. The Justice Department also recently sided with a Colorado baker in a case pending before SCOTUS this term in which the baker refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple as he claims it was against his religious beliefs.

The new Justice Department guidance takes a muscular view of religious freedom rights, but officials said that the document is a neutral description of existing law and not an effort to weigh in on particular policy issues.

The Justice Department has aggressively come to the defense of religious freedom.

The Trump administration has issued a directive giving the go-ahead for religious businesses to discriminate against LGBT people. The guidance addresses a number of issues, but one message rings clearly throughout: Sessions wants to empower people to ignore laws that religiously offend them, even if it hurts third parties.

First, in the area of discrimination and civil rights law, nothing is "per se".

The guidance issued by Sessions on Friday says "religious organizations may choose to employ only persons whose beliefs and conduct are consistent with the organizations' religious precepts".

Additionally, in 2015 while Mike Pence was governor, in passed its own version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, despite outcry from opponents who argued the bill could be used to legally discriminate against LGBTI people.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said, "The increase of substance abuse in Montana is fueling violent crimes at a frightening rate, tearing apart once safe and peaceful communities".

"Groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, who dedicate their lives to the indigent elderly, can finally expect the restitution of their conscience-rights in court", Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, policy advisor with The Catholic Association, stated on Friday.

However, the legal memo suggests that the government's legal authority to forbid racial discrimination may not be as strong as its authority to target other forms of discrimination, such as bias against women or LGBT individuals.

Additionally, gender identity is included as a protected class under 19 state and several hundred local anti-discrimination laws.

The National Center for Transgender Equality and other advocacy groups, on the other hand, claim the opposite: Theirs is the correct interpretation of the law. "We are confident that the courts will continue to agree and will reject the politically driven decision by Attorney General Sessions".

"The fact that the ADF has confirmed it has participated in a listening session is further proof that extremists have infiltrated the highest echelons of power in this administration, even the Attorney General who is tasked with protecting the civil rights of all Americans", Dinielli told ABC News.

"It opens the door for discrimination in the workplace and public services, flying in the face of the majority of Americans of whom over 70 percent believe laws should protect LGBTQ people from discrimination", Isaacs said.

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