Tomorrow is President Donald J. Trump’s 100th day in office. Although he campaigned on his 100-day “Contract with the American Voter,” he no longer seems enthusiastic about the milestone. Perhaps that’s because he is facing criticism for failing to achieve any major legislative victories. One thing he has accomplished: He has caused real harm to religious freedom and has made promises to do even more.
Aimee Stephens worked for six years at a Detroit funeral home. Then, she came out as transgender and announced that she would begin to live publicly as a woman, which would include dressing consistent with her gender identity.
Two weeks later, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes fired her. Why? The funeral-home owner said Aimee’s behavior contradicted his religious beliefs.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State was joined by 76 faith leaders and 13 religious and civil-rights organizations in urging a federal appeals court to rule that a Michigan funeral home had violated a transgender employee’s civil rights when it fired her for wearing women’s clothing in accordance with her gender identity.
A suburban Chicago school board race this spring was seen as a referendum on transgender rights. According to Tuesday’s unofficial election results, transgender rights won.
Over a year ago, the school board for Township High School District 211 in the Palatine-Schaumburg area northwest of Chicago approved a settlement with the U.S. Department of Education to allow transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld marriage equality almost two years ago, and some supporters of the Religious Right are still smarting about that.
Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a trio of cases that will decide whether religiously affiliated hospital systems must comply with federal pension protections. The large health systems don’t want to; they argue they should get a narrow exemption to the law carved out for houses of worship. But these health systems, with nearly 100,000 employees, are not churches.
The confirmation hearing for federal Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald J. Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, got under way yesterday, with some senators mentioning religious freedom during their opening remarks.
Gorsuch will start taking questions today, and the issue is likely to resurface again. It will be interesting to hear what Gorsuch has to say. In AU’s view, some of his opinions on religious freedom are troubling, and that’s why we’re opposed to his nomination.
The Supreme Court this morning announced that it is remanding and vacating the lower-court decision in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., the first transgender-rights case that the high court had ever agreed to hear.
So what does this mean, in laypeople’s terms? The Supreme Court had scheduled oral arguments for March 28. Now those arguments won’t happen this month. Instead, the case is going back to a lower federal court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, for more deliberation.
While much of the country has been understandably distracted by the antics of President Donald J. Trump’s fledgling administration, state legislators have been busy introducing a host of bills that could negatively impact religious liberty.
Legislation has been proposed in nearly two dozen states that could allow businesses, individuals, organizations, schools or even government entities to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, women and others.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State applauds today’s Washington State Supreme Court ruling that a florist cannot cite religious beliefs as justification for discriminating against same-sex couples.