Two unrelated but parallel developments today illustrate how determined the Trump administration is to keep its promises to conservative Christians in carving out a right to discriminate for those who claim a religious objection to LGBTQ equality. The first is a straightforward reversal of an Obama policy protecting health care for transgender people, as reported by The Hill:
The proposed regulation, announced Friday, scraps ObamaCare’s definition of “sex discrimination” to remove protections for gender identity.
That provision said patients cannot be turned away because they are transgender, nor can they be denied coverage if they need a service that’s related to their transgender status.
Can’t have that, can we?
The new regulation is of a piece with other anti-trans steps by the administration:
Earlier this month, the administration finalized rules making it easier for health workers and institutions to deny treatment to people if it would violate their religious or moral beliefs.
In addition, the Department of Housing and Urban Development this week proposed a rule that would also roll back transgender protections in housing, by allowing federally funded shelters to turn away transgender people for religious reasons.
The military’s transgender ban also took effect earlier this month, despite objections from advocacy groups and medical experts.
On a separate track, as Axios reports, the administration is preparing to rescind another Obama policy providing same-sex couples with equal rights to adoption:
Obama banned adoption and foster-care agencies from receiving federal funding if they refused to work with same-sex couples.
Religious organizations have consistently bristled at that policy, arguing that they’re being forced to contradict their beliefs.
Administration officials said the White House is weighing two options: either rescinding those rules altogether, or adding an explicit exemption for religious organizations.
The debate is mainly about which approach would hold up better in court, the officials said. A religious exemption seems to have the upper hand for now, but that could change.
That does indeed reflect a strategic choice for the God-wants-us-to-discriminate lobby: Do you just get rid of anti-discrimination rules generally, or try to carve out your own private Gilead where the rules governing the rest of society can safely be ignored without sacrificing federal grants and other taxpayer supplied goodies?
Either way, Trump is going to give his religious constituencies everything he can, and what he can’t give them via regulations he’ll fight for in the federal courts he is busily tearing down and rebuilding.