Sessions wants more theocracy please

Jeff Sessions gave a speech at the conservative Christian law firm the Alliance Defending Freedom, in which he promised new guidelines on “religious freedom.” We know what that means when someone like Jeff Sessions says it.

When the speech at Alliance Defending Freedom’s Summit on Religious Liberty appeared on the Attorney General’s public schedule, it was cause for concern among LGBTQ advocacy groups and Democrats — many of whom issued statements questioning why Sessions would speak to what some call an anti-LGBTQ hate group due to its history of litigating against LGBTQ rights.

But after reading the transcript and learning of the Justice Department’s plans to create a new federal policy on protecting religious liberties and doubling down on enforcing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, advocates suggested Sessions was more interested in protecting the right to discriminate than the freedom of religion.

Or both. They may be inextricably tangled together. He may think that’s what freedom of religion means.

The Trump administration has promised several times to enact some form of increased religious liberty protections. During the campaign, Trump said he would sign the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that would allow businesses to turn away LGBTQ people as well as unmarried couples and single mothers.

Before being confirmed as Attorney General, then-senator Sessions was a sponsor of the First Amendment Defense Act.

In May, President Trump signed an executive order on religious liberty that allows companies to reject the Affordable Care Act’s mandate on birth control coverage.

Thus violating the religious freedom of women who need birth control and think their health insurance should cover it.

Sessions has also faced criticism from LGBTQ rights advocates. In a January interview, the mother of slain gay college student Matthew Shepard told NBC News that Sessions fought against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Act when it was being debated in 2009. In a lengthy speech decrying the legislation designed to help victims, Sessions said that “gays and lesbians have not been denied access” to anything, and that hate crimes were “thought crimes.”

In his senate career, Sessions displayed strong anti-LGBTQ leanings. According to a report issued by the Human Rights Campaign, then-senator Sessions argued in favor of anti-sodomy laws used to imprison gay men, opposed same-sex marriage, sought to terminate National Endowment for the Arts funding because it once went to black lesbian filmmaker Cheryl Dunye, opposed repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy keeping lesbian and gay service members in the closet, and tried to block federal funding for HIV-prevention programs if they appear to “promote sexual activity and behavior” among “homosexual men and women.”

Apparently only straight people get to have religious freedom.

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