The National Organization for Marriage has started a petition to urge Donald Trump to sign the anti-LGBT “religious freedom” executive order that was leaked to the media this week.
“President Trump has been considering an Executive Order to protect religious liberty, but someone intentionally leaked it to the gay media in an attempt to derail it, allowing LGBT activists to orchestrate a false campaign claiming that protecting religious liberty is discrimination against gays and lesbians,” NOM president Bryan Brown wrote in introducing the petition. “The LGBT extremists are orchestrating a fearmongering campaign, getting their allies to contact the White House to oppose the prospective order.” NOM urges its supporters to contact the White House in addition to signing the petition.
The draft of the order was actually first published by The Nation, which advocates for progressive causes but is not part of the “gay media.” And as for the “false campaign,” well, the draft states that the government shall take no punitive action against organizations, businesses, and even public employees acting “in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life.”
So, for instance, social service agencies could refuse to place foster children or adoptees with same-sex couples, or deny services to LGBT young people, without losing federal funds or contracts. Employees of federal agencies could refuse to serve LGBT people, without repercussions. Single parents could suffer discrimination as well, and women could see obstacles to obtaining contraceptives and abortions. But to NOM, that’s not discrimination.
After the order was leaked, LGBT and civil liberties groups quickly denounced it, and legal scholars said it would likely violate the U.S. Constitution. Some activists predicted that Trump would announce the order when appearing at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday, but he did not, instead backing other means of giving churches a greater voice in politics. White House press secretary Sean Spicer, when asked about the order, said there are no plans for any further orders “right now,” but “there are a lot of ideas that are being floated out.”
Spicer also said Trump is constantly asking for input and ideas, and Brown may not be the only member of the religious right seeking to influence him. The "anti-LGBTQ extremists who have the president’s ear," according to a Human Rights Campaign blog post, likely include Michele Bachmann, the former Minnesota congresswoman and onetime presidential candidate; James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council; Ralph Reed, who led the Christian Coalition in the 1990s and now heads up the Faith and Freedom Coalition; and Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University. All were members of Trump's evangelical advisory council during his presidential campaign, and Trump has chosen Falwell to head a task force on education.