Sessions Becomes Tongue-Tied on Indefensible License to Discriminate

by HRC Staff

Washington, DC -- Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, issued the following statement after Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed to answer questions about recent attacks on the LGBTQ community coming from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
During a DOJ oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, several Senators addressed recent policies and memos issued by the DOJ including the sweeping “license to discriminate” order. Sessions shamefully admitted that specific examples of discrimination were “something I never thought would arise” following his latest attack on the LGBTQ community. When pressed by Senators, Sessions seemed to be at a loss for words and requested time to follow up after the hearing.
“It’s difficult to believe that the Attorney General of the United States did not consider all potential ramifications before he signed a sweeping license to discriminate order,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “Jeff Sessions knew exactly what he was doing and was proud to pander to Trump-Pence extremists. Any attempt to paint this directive as something other than a vicious attack on the LGBTQ community is disingenuous.”
LGBTQ advocates have long warned that the Trump-Pence administration’s license to discriminate would put LGBTQ people and women at risk in some of the following ways:
  • A Social Security Administration employee could refuse to accept or process spousal or survivor benefits paperwork for a surviving same-sex spouse.
  • A federal contractor could refuse to provide services to LGBTQ people, including in emergencies, without risk of losing federal contracts.
  • Organizations that had previously been prohibited from requiring all of their employees from following the tenets of the organization’s faith could now possibly discriminate against LGBTQ people in the provision of benefits and overall employment status.
  • Agencies receiving federal funding, and even their individual staff members, could refuse to provide services to LGBTQ children in crisis, or to place adoptive or foster children with a same-sex couple or transgender couple simply because of who they are.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community.

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