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Critics Say 2 Memos From Sessions Attack LGBTQ Rights

Critics Say 2 Memos From Sessions Attack LGBTQ Rights

Faith-based groups and members of Congress alike applauded Sessions' memo, expressing optimism that his guidance might help correct recent infringements on the religious rights of Americans.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a directive today that'll give institutions and individuals the right refuse services to women and the LGBT community for those institutions that can argue that their religious freedoms are being violated.

Reaction was swift with LGBTI rights organizations condemning the policies.

The guidelines touch on a number of high-profile religious liberty disputes, including the Hobby Lobby case that challenged the requirement that employers provide health insurance coverage that includes contraception.

James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, criticized ABC News for its coverage of the group in July, after ABC News reported that Sessions delivered a closed-door address to the group at their Summit on Religious Liberty in California, where he suggested, according to a text of the speech later published by the conservative website The Federalist, religion was "under attack".

This meant that many religious charities and universities had to comply with the mandate's demands. But the numbers don't matter - something the Obama administration never understood. Enacted in 1993, RFRA is one of the primary legislative pillars upon which religious freedom arguments have rested in the last two decades.

Government may not interfere with the autonomy of a religious organization.

It expanded a religious exemption that previously applied to houses of worship, religiously affiliated nonprofit groups and closely held private companies.

In establishing such broad new exemptions, the new rule "practically amounts to a revocation of the mandate", Franck told CNA.

Prominent U.S. bishops praised the HHS announcement on Friday as a "return to common sense".

The anti-gay hate group Alliance Defending Freedom "called it "a great day for religious freedom.' The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT-rights group, called the guidelines an 'all-out assault" on civil rights and a 'sweeping license to discriminate'".

"This isn't just a federal issue, it's an issue at the state level and even the local level". The U.S. Supreme Court will likely have to resolve the issue in the future, but may issue some relevant guidance this term in the Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. case (involving issues of a school district's obligations to a transgender student).

"14 or 15 months later" after the Supreme Court asked for a solution, "what we see today is really the resolution of that process", Rienzi said.

Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993 in response to outcry about a Supreme Court case involving two members of a Native American church in OR who used the hallucinogen peyote in a religious ceremony.

The religious objection order lifts the burden of proof from religious objectors who claim their beliefs about marriage or other issues have not been upheld.

Government may not restrict or compel actions because of the belief they display. If the Justice Department gives cover to government employees refusing to do their jobs or treat LGBT people equally under the law, it's going to be harder to explain as a legal interpretation.

The guidance overrides executive orders issues by President Obama that protected LGBT people from some forms of discrimination, declaring that people should be free to discriminate on the grounds of religion.

Sessions' guidance included 20 key principles of religious liberty which summarize the Federal Government's relation to religious freedom.

"Religious liberty is not merely a right to personal religious beliefs or even to worship in a sacred place", Sessions wrote. "It also encompasses religious observance and practice".

"We've never had anything this far-reaching before", he said, noting that the guidance puts religious freedom on the level of freedom of speech.

Camilla Taylor, senior legal counsel at Lambda Legal, describes the guidance as an "effort to pressure agencies into valuing religious liberties over protections from discrimination".

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