The Trump regime made it official Wednesday: Federal contractors can discriminate against people on the basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, or LGBTQ status. If the rule from the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs clears the public comment period and manages to defeat the inevitable litigation that will be raised against it, it would mean that federal contractors—of whom there are some 430,000—would be allowed to, say, fire a lesbian solely on the grounds of their religious objections to her sexual orientation. A woman pregnant without being married might also be fired on these grounds.
One more example of Trump and his minions doing what they can to retreat on civil rights protections, all to firm up elements of his voter base.
While federal contractors must have a “religious purpose” to be able to discriminate on religious grounds under the new rule, Dominic Holden reports:
But the Trump administration makes clear in the draft rule that a corporation needn’t focus entirely on religion to qualify, saying, “The contractor must be organized for a religious purpose, meaning that it was conceived with a self-identified religious purpose. This need not be the contractor’s only purpose.”
“A religious purpose can be shown by articles of incorporation or other founding documents, but that is not the only type of evidence that can be used,” says the rule, which grants companies many opportunities to claim that faith or morals guide their purpose.
When the draft discrimination rule was rolled out, critics said that it was targeted at undermining President Barack Obama’s executive order of five years ago that barred contractors from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Others have suggested that it could be used to discriminate against people of minority faiths, against divorcées, and perhaps even on the basis of race.
Holden notes that the new rule adds to the regime’s previous efforts that allow “employers, shopkeepers, and medical professionals to ignore laws and policies that ban discrimination.” For instance, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this year implemented regulations to protect healthcare providers that deny contraception and created a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division that allows people to refuse services to people based on religious bigotry.
Since Trump first squatted in the Oval Office, his team has attacked workplace protections for LGBTQ employees, saying early on that a federal ban on sex discrimination doesn’t include sexual orientation and gender identity bias, contrary to what was the case during the Obama administration. Come October, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in three cases falling under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But if the rule is implemented its effects could easily extend well beyond its pernicious impact on LGBTQ people.
The American Civil Liberties Union has previously noted:
Instances of institutions and individuals claiming a right to discriminate in the name of religion aren’t new. In the 1960s, we saw institutions object to laws requiring integration in restaurants because of sincerely held beliefs that God wanted the races to be separate. We saw religiously affiliated universities refuse to admit students who engaged in interracial dating. In those cases, we recognized that requiring integration was not about violating religious liberty; it was about ensuring fairness. It is no different today.
Religious freedom in America means that we all have a right to our religious beliefs, but this does not give us the right to use our religion to discriminate against and impose those beliefs on others who do not share them.
The proposed rule will be open for public comments until September 16.