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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Christian Right Activist Heading Civil Rights Office at HHS Moves Closer to Killing Protections for LGBTQ Patients

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Move Comes During Height of First Wave of Pandemic

Roger Severino, a Christian right activist who heads the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services’s Office for Civil Rights is one step closer to his own personal goal of removing protections for LGBTQ patients, a move that would allow discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.

Under Severino’s leadership the Trump administration has been moving quickly toward the final stages of dismantling critical protections for LGBTQ patients, Politico reports. The Dept. of Health and Human Services has sent a draft of its rewrite of an Obama-era policy to the Dept. of Justice for review, a sign it could soon announce the rollback of hard-fought regulations protecting some of the nation’s most vulnerable people.

HHS has been working on re-interpreting and re-writing the nondiscrimination provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The agency’s website currently says Section 1557 of the ACA “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs or activities.”

“Advocates fear that it would allow hospitals and health workers to more easily discriminate against patients based on their gender or sexual orientation,” Politico reports, noting the provision “also offered specific protections for transgender patients for the first time and extended protections for women who had abortions.”

Severino has been called a “radical” anti-LGBTQ religious right activist. He previously served as CEO and counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a religious right non-profit that opposes separation of church and state. He also once served as the Director of the DeVos family’s Center for Religion and Civil Society in the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity.

Late last year a federal judge voided a rule Severino had implemented allowing medical providers to cite their personal religious or moral beliefs as a reason to refuse to provide care to certain individuals or to perform certain procedures. It would have allowed doctors and other health care professionals to refuse to perform or participate in abortions, prescribe or deliver contraception, or provide care to and LGBTQ person.

Severino is also tied to the Trump administration’s efforts to ban same-sex couples and LGBTQ people from adoption services.

Severino has long sought to gut ObamaCare’s LGBTQ protections. Before coming to the Trump administration Severino co-authored a Heritage Foundation report claiming new proposed ObamaCare nondiscrimination provisions “threaten the religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and independent medical judgment of health care professionals.”

 

 

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Hate Group Head Tony Perkins Prays for ‘Conflict’ and ‘Gridlock’ to ‘Settle Upon’ DC if Biden Enacts His Agenda

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Family Research Council President Tony Perkins appeared on the Truth & Liberty Coalition’s livestream program Monday night, where he urged Christians to pray that God will prevent Senate Democrats from eliminating the filibuster and that President Joe Biden’s administration will be stymied by gridlock.

Perkins prayed that Biden’s administration will “be confused” and prevented from enacting its political agenda, which he recently said was “literally from the pit of hell,” taking aim at the administration’s efforts to offer protections for transgender individuals and funding for reproductive health.

“We just need to continue to pray,” Perkins said. “Pray that the Lord would prohibit them from [eliminating the filibuster]. Look, we need God. We need God to move on our behalf. We need to repent as a nation of the stuff that’s being pushed through. Just look at what the Biden administration has pushed through, and we’re not even talking to legislation yet, but the whole transgender agenda we mentioned a few moments ago, he’s put that onto the military, he’s put it onto elementary and secondary schools, he’s put it on our colleges. Look at the issue of abortion; not just the repeal, the overturning of the Mexico City policy that prohibits [reproductive health] funding in foreign policy, but even the Hyde Amendment that was eliminated in the coronavirus relief bill, the $2 trillion and all the money that’s going to flow to Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics. This is atrocious, and we need to be praying that God would move in our country.”

“I pray for God’s blessing on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, [that] they yield themselves to him, praying that he would turn their hearts as he does the rivers of water,” Perkins added. “But if they refuse the truth and go against the truth, I pray that they would be confused, they would have conflict, and gridlock would settle upon Washington D.C.”

 

This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Montana GOP Lawmakers Pass Discriminatory Anti-LGBTQ ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill

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Lawmakers in the Montana House and Senate have passed a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” bill that will allow any person or business to discriminate against anyone for any reason if not doing so would violate their religious beliefs.

House Democrats supported an amendment that would not allow the law to be used to discriminate but Republicans refused to support it.

“Do not make me NOT do what my God tells me I have to do,” Republican Rep. John Fuller, opposing the amendment, said during Thursday’s debate, the AP reports.

“The LGBTQ community opposes the bill, arguing it could lead to challenges against ordinances in several cities that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression,” the AP adds. “The Montana Human Rights Act does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

The Human Rights Campaign says the bill is “similar” to the “religious freedom” bill then-Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law, causing nationwide outrage.

“This bill is so sweeping and so dangerous that under it, LGBTQ Montanans could be denied access to PREP and PEP and other life-saving medications by pharmacies,” HRC said via Twitter.

News outlets are falsely comparing the Montana legislation to the federal law of the same name. The federal law does not affix personhood status to corporations, organizations, or businesses, and does not directly support anti-LGBT discrimination – the Montana law does, stating:

“Person” means any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious institution, estate, trust, foundation, or other legal entity.

Democrats tried to stop the bill’s passage but were unsuccessful.

“This bill would allow a family therapist to refuse to help an unwed mother. It would allow a pharmacist to refuse to prescribe HIV medications or oral contraceptive pills,” said state Democratic Rep. Laurie Bishop, Montana Free Press reports. “… I just ask you, that as you consider this legislation, that you’d not only think about that which you want to protect, I understand that, but rather, I ask you to consider how others might use this legislation in ways that you do not intend.”

Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte (photo) is expected to sign the bill into law.

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Third Time’s the Charm? Anti-LGBTQ Lawmaker One Step Closer to Making the Bible the Official State Book of Tennessee

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The third time may be the charm for Tennessee Republican state Rep. Jerry Sexton, a former pastor who is one step closer to realizing his dream of making the Christian bible the official state book of Tennessee. On Monday the House voted 55-28 in favor of a resolution to do just that.

During debate, Sexton essentially said he does not believe in separation of church and state:

Rep. Sexton has been working since at least 2015 to accomplish his goal. Governor Bill Haslam, a Republican, vetoed the bill when it passed in 2016.

But now Sexton believes he may have found a way to convince his colleagues to support his bill.

“Nashville is the top publisher of Bibles in the nation, he says,” according to Tennessee Lookout, “and Tennessee’s culture is based largely on the Bible and the nation’s Judeo-Christian founding.”

Rep. Sexton is opposed to LGBTQ people. In 2019 he co-sponsored the “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act,” which would have declared the Supreme Court case that found same-sex couples have a right to marry as “void.” It it had been signed into law it would have cost the state $8.5 billion.

That same year he co-sponsored an anti-LGBTQ “license to discriminate” bill. In 2017 he co-sponsored a bill allowing businesses to engage in anti-LGBTQ discrimination against their own employees and others.

Last year, in opposing the removal of a Confederate statue, Sexton told lawmakers, “It was not against the law to own slaves back then.”

“Who knows, maybe some of us will be slaves one of these days. Laws change.”

 

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