The Department of Justice issued legal guidance Friday instructing all federal departments and executive agencies to protect “religious freedoms.” Advocates fear the move will translate into discrimination against people who do not identify as straight or cisgender.
The 25-page document is billed as an interpretation of religious liberty protections that already exist in federal law. But it includes explicit direction that an employer can refuse to hire a person and, in some cases, fire a person according to the employer’s religious beliefs.
In a written statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that he issued the guidance to fulfill an executive order signed in May by President Donald Trump.
On the same day, the administration broadened an exemption that allowed companies to refuse to cover the cost of their employees’ birth control if they had a religious or moral objection.
That is a major change from Obama-era regulations that allowed a narrower band of religious exemptions.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed suit against the administration regarding the birth control exemption on Oct. 9.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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