Several news outlets are reporting that drafts of a "religious freedom" executive order are circulating amongst White House officials, and the order includes language that could allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans. On Feb. 1, The Nation and Reveal released copies of the draft, which, among other things, appears to protect religious organizations that act in opposition to premarital sex, same-sex marriage, abortion, and transgender people and communities when it comes to maintaining tax-exempt status and receiving federal government grants and charitable funding.
On Feb. 2, White House officials speaking to ABC News neither confirmed nor denied the document's authenticity, but said that there are hundreds of drafts of executive orders being circulated amongst the Trump team. Not all drafts will necessarily be finalized and signed into policy. The religious beliefs covered by the draft include:
...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.
If the draft were to be signed as an official executive order, it would seemingly allow discrimination in areas from adoption to employment for LGBTQ people, as well as those seeking contraception.
Sean Spicer refused to answer a question about rumors of the executive order during the Jan. 30 White House press briefing. The following day, the White House released a statement announcing that Trump would continue Barack Obama's 2014 executive order protecting LGBTQ Americans from workplace discrimination. When asked about the executive order again at the Feb. 2 White House press briefing, Spicer replied, "There’s right now no executive orders that are official or able to read out. We maintain that there’s nothing new on that front."
However, when asked about how Trump views the tension between religious liberty and discrimination, Spicer spoke of the line between religious liberty and political correctness. He later added, "And so there’s clearly a lot of evidence in the last couple years of the government coming in with regulations and policies that have, frankly, denied people the ability to live according to their faith."
The latest official comments on the executive order draft may do little to quell fears that Trump would sign such an executive order. Either way, protests and demonstrations led by LGBTQ-centered organizations are already in the works. Organizers of the Queer Dance Party held outside of Mike Pence's house on Inauguration Day eve are organizing a similar dance protest outside of Washington, D.C.'s Trump Hotel on Feb. 3. On Feb. 4, GLAAD is hosting an LGBT Solidarity Rally outside of New York City's historic Stonewall Inn.