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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Watch: Bill Barr Meets, Prays With Radical Right-Wing Activist Who Wonders if Vaccines Make Kids Gay
Attorney General Bill Barr has been conspicuously missing from public view over the past few months but over the weekend he came outside of his home to meet with a far right wing religious extremist, and to pray with him.
“On Friday and Saturday, a small group of right-wing activists,” Right Wing Watch reports, “led by radical religious-right bigot Dave Daubenmire, carried out a series of protests outside the home of Joe Biden in Delaware, as well as the home of former president Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., demanding that the Democratic presidential nominee and the president for whom he worked as vice president be arrested, tried, and executed for treason.”
Barr is an uber-conservative Catholic who supports dominionism. Last year Joan Walsh at The Nation called him “a paranoid right-wing Catholic ideologue who won’t respect the separation of church and state.”
Daubenmire, who is also a Christian minister, last month called for Hillary Clinton to be publicly executed.
Here’s video of the meeting, which shows Daubenmire and other activists with Attorney General Barr, praying. Some of the men wore shirts emblazoned with political statements, including “Crooked Hillary for Prison,” and “Lock’er Up.” Several were using Trump 2020 banners as blankets. One had a tee-shirt with “InfoWars,” a far right wing conspiracy website printed on the back.
Here Barr posing for a photo with Daubenmire.
Right Wing Watch calls Daubenmire “a deeply bigoted, anti-Semitic, anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, right-wing conspiracy theorist—the sort who proudly declares that women become lesbians because they are so ugly that no man could ever love them, asserts that Barack Obama was ‘a quasi-Muslim freak’ and ‘an emissary from Hell,‘ warns that Oprah Winfrey was planning to run for president in order to carry out a white genocide, complains that he is not allowed to say the ‘N-word,’ gripes that the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was a ‘psy-op’ intended to promote ‘the blending of the races,’ and calls interracial marriage ‘spiritual AIDS.'”
He has also wondered if vaccines make kids gay.
“Who knows what was injected into some of these deviant sex people as children. When they say they were born that way, maybe they were vaccinated that way.”
It’s unclear why the Attorney General is meeting with far right wing extremists.
SCOTUS to Hear Major LGBTQ Case, With Barrett – Designed to Give Christians Special Rights to Discriminate
Just one day after 2020’s historic Election Day, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear a landmark case seeking to revoke non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, along with minority religious groups like Jews and Muslims. The case could hand Christians special rights to discriminate. It relies on overturning a 30-year precedent, something Justice Amy Coney Barrett has said she is not opposed to doing.
The case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, involves Catholic Social Services (CSS) of Philadelphia, which lost in a unanimous Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, but appealed to the Supreme Court.
The City of Philadelphia notified Catholic Social Services in 2018 that it would no longer send children to them to be fostered or adopted because of the religious group’s refusal to place children in homes headed by same-sex couples or LGBTQ people.
With the loss of placements comes a loss of taxpayer funds. CSS isn’t banned from continuing to adhere to its policies or religious beliefs, it just won’t be able to use children the City of Philadelphia was sending them as tools to continue its discriminatory practices.
“In court papers, the group has argued that Philadelphia’s moves unlawfully targeted its right to exercise its religion, which is protected under the First Amendment,” CNBC reports. “Philadelphia, on the other hand, has said it is entitled to enforce anti-discrimination policies in order to protect LGBT residents. The city says it is not hostile to religion, noting that its policies apply evenly to religious and secular government contractors.”
Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro, writing for the court, said CSS failed to show that the city was motivated by anything other than “sincere opposition to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
Should the heavily-conservative majority Supreme Court overturn the Third Circuit Court’s unanimous ruling, it likely would also need to overturn precedent from a 1990 SCOTUS case, Employment Division v. Smith, which CSS is asking the Court to do.
CSS is represented by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a multi-million dollar non-profit.
The Becket Fund calls discriminating against same-sex families and LGBTQ people, “Making room for diversity.”
The group has had success at the Supreme Court before, notably in the infamous 2014 Hobby Lobby anti-abortion case.
Image: Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks via Flickr
NOM Co-Founder Posts Smiling Photo of Himself With Justice Amy Coney Barrett – Calls Her ‘My Favorite Handmaiden’
National Organization For Marriage co-founder Robert P. George just posted a photo of himself with the nation’s newest Supreme Court Justice, Amy Coney Barrett, calling her “my favorite Handmaiden of the Law.” NOM is the anti-LGBTQ anti-marriage equality organization that conservatives had poured millions into in the hope it would stanch the spread of same-sex marriage.
George’s remarks are apparently meant to mock Americans’ deep and dire fears and concerns about Justice Barrett, a far right religious extremist who vehemently opposes abortion, same-sex marriage, equality for LGBTQ people, and ObamaCare. She is seen as the most far-right jurist on the Supreme Court, even more extreme than Justice Clarence Thomas.
The “Handmaiden” reference is to Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which is set in what was once New England, now part the fictional totalitarian, Christian nation of Gilead, created after an overthrow of the United States. In the novel, which is also a film and a television series, women are not allowed to read or participate in much of society, and are forced to serve men much in the way the Bible commands. Rape is institutionalized and homosexuality is punishable by death.
George is a Princeton University professor. He is also the co-founder and a senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, a conservative think tank that focuses its efforts on opposing same-sex marriage, abortion, and stem cell research.
Barrett was forced through the confirmation process in near-record time, as conservatives praised the far right wing anti-LGBTQ, anti-equality, pro-religious extremism jurist. She was confirmed by Republican Senators Monday night, and barely hours later sworn in at the White House.
With my favorite Handmaiden of the Law. pic.twitter.com/Zger3pgiTa
— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) October 27, 2020
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