Protecting our first freedoms:
Faith, conscience and speech

Voice your values: Legislative action

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Trump expected to roll back LGBT protections in ObamaCare

The Hill

August 12, 2017

A proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to be released in the coming weeks or months that opponents say would make it easier for doctors and hospitals to deny treatment to transgender patients and women who have had abortions. A sweeping 2016 final rule from the Obama administration prohibited healthcare providers and insurers who receive federal money from denying treatment or coverage to anyone based on sex, gender identity, or termination of pregnancy, among other conditions. It also required doctors and hospitals to provide "medically necessary" services to transgender individuals, as long as those services were the same ones provided to others. Becket Law, which represents the Franciscan Alliance [and Christian Medical Association], told The Hill in an emailed statement "the old rule never had a legal leg to stand on. [T]he government has no business forcing doctors to violate their medical judgment and perform harmful gender transition procedures on children."

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Beyond Bathrooms: Why Transgender Battles Could Soon Impact Every Family

The National Pulse commentary by Anna Anderson

August 8, 2017

"As it becomes clearer every day, Americans are sharply divided on how best to handle questions of children and gender identity. For better or worse, however, American parents are currently allowed (and even encouraged) to raise their kids as the opposite gender, and reports suggest many are doing so. But should these parents have the right to force other parents in their community to raise their own kids to question their biological sex? Should they have the right to impose their own transgender ideology on other families?"

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Transgender Americans Won't Be Allowed to Serve in Military, Trump Announces

The Daily Signal

July 28, 2017

"President Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning that the U.S. military will not accept openly transgender individuals, reversing an Obama administration policy directive. Earlier this month, Defense Secretary James Mattis had said he would delay new admissions of openly transgender Americans into the military until Jan. 1, on the advice of military brass. But Trump’s announcement appeared to seal the matter, at least for the time being."

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House Conservatives Try Again to Block Funding for Transgender Treatments in Military

The Daily Signal

July 26, 2017

"Some House Republicans are taking another shot at blocking funding for gender transition surgeries in the military, projected to cost about $3.7 billion over the next decade. Earlier this month, 23 House Republicans joined Democrats to defeat an amendment by Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., to block the funding for transgender treatments in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. The NDAA sets priorities for military spending."

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The Man Behind Trump's Religious-Freedom Agenda for Health Care

The Atlantic

June 7, 2017

Roger Severino, the newly appointed head of its Office for Civil Rights, leads the office that could shape the future of two of the most high-stakes aspects of the health-care debate: abortion and contraception access and LGBT rights. OCR, as it's known, is responsible for investigating civil-rights violations in health-care settings, including discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, and national origin. Under Barack Obama, HHS faced religious objections to the Affordable Care Act's requirement that most employers cover birth control in their insurance plans, and OCR has dealt with the fall-out of those fights. It developed strict requirements for the language services hospitals have to provide to non-English speakers. Most controversially, it was responsible for interpreting Section 1557, the part of the health-care law that prohibits discrimination.

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More people are getting 'sex change' surgeries than ever before ... but it's not what you think


May 25, 2017

The Christian Medical Association, a national organization of Christian healthcare professionals, currently has a case before the circuit court in Texas concerning the HHS transgender mandate, which essentially coerces medical professionals to provide services that they deem to be not in their patients' best interest. Dr. David Stevens, the association's CEO, is concerned about the trend toward increased medical interventions for gender dysphoric youth. Stevens told LifeSiteNews that kids "lack the cognitive ability to give informed consent to procedures like this." Whether they be hormone treatments or surgical procedures, these interventions have lifelong ramifications. "Among individuals who identify as transgender, use cross-sex hormones, and undergo sex reassignment surgery, there is well-documented increased incidence of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, and risky sexual behaviors. Eighty to 85 percent of the time, these kids revert to their biological sex after they go through puberty."

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Republicans in Congress push for religious liberty executive order

USA Today

April 25, 2017

Beyond the workforce protections, the widely circulated draft order would have eliminated the contraceptive mandate that requires religious institutions to provide health insurance for birth control. Republicans lawmakers are also pushing for the order to allow for doctors to refuse to perform abortions based on religion. They also want to see protections for religious non-profits to be able to express political opinions without losing their tax-exempt status. The letters signatories, all men except for Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler, include some of the Republican caucus’ most conservative members. A similar letter was sent by Senate Republicans earlier this month. “An executive order requiring federal government agencies to protect the right to religious freedom is necessary, and directing agencies to adhere to existing federal laws protecting religious freedom is sound policy,” the letter reads.

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Woman Who Identifies as Man Sues Catholic Hospital for Disallowing Uterus Removal at Facility

Christian News Network

April 24, 2017

A California woman who identifies as a man has filed a lawsuit against a Catholic hospital and its parent company for prohibiting her surgeon from performing a sex change-related hysterectomy at the facility because of the organization's religious convictions. Mercy San Juan President Brian Ivie informed Minton's surgeon, Lindsey Dawson-who regularly performs hysterectomies at the facility-that perhaps she could instead obtain admitting privileges at nearby Methodist Hospital, which is still a part of the network, but non-Catholic. "I don't blame the staff," said Dawson. "I don't blame the administrators. I blame the [Roman Catholic] doctrines." As previously reported, last summer, the Obama administration released guidelines prohibiting sex discrimination in federally-funded hospitals under the threat of losing funding. Five states, as well as the Christian Medical Association and the Roman Catholic Franciscan Alliance, quickly filed suit out of their belief that the government was wrongly forcing them to perform sex change-related procedures violative of the tenets of their faith. Judge Reed O'Connor sided with the plaintiffs in the case, citing the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and concluding that "[p]laintiffs will be forced to either violate their religious beliefs or maintain their current policies which seem to be in direct conflict with the rule and risk the severe consequences of enforcement."

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Gay rights organizations hail court ruling as "game changer"

Washington Post

April 5, 2017

In an opinion concurring with the majority, Judge Richard Posner wrote that changing norms call for a change in interpretation of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex. "I don't see why firing a lesbian because she is in the subset of women who are lesbian should be thought any less a form of sex discrimination than firing a woman because she's a woman," wrote the judge, who was appointed by Republican Ronald Reagan. The dissenting opinion - written by Judge Diane Sykes, a conservative who was on Trump's list of possible Supreme Court appointees - said the majority were stretching the meaning of the law's text too far. "We are not authorized to infuse the text with a new or unconventional meaning or to update it to respond to changed social, economic, or political conditions." The dissent alludes to the judicial philosophy of Trump's high-court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, who advocates sticking with the original legislative texts in deciding legal disputes.

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Gender Identity Policies in Schools

Heritage Foundation commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

March 23, 2017

For most Americans, concerns related to students who identify as transgender are a new reality. The Obama Administration's response to this new reality was an unlawful attempt to force a one-size-fits-all policy on the entire nation rather than allow parents, teachers, and local schools the time, space, and flexibility to find solutions that would work best for everyone. The Trump Administration has taken the first steps to correct this. Instead of imposing a federal "gender identity" policy on the entire nation, all branches of government should respect federalism, local decision-making, and parental authority in education. The American people should be able to consider all of the relevant concerns and devise policies that can best serve all Americans. Congress should support such efforts, and the courts should respect them.

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Trump Returns Authority Over School Transgender Policies to States and Localities

The Stream commentary by Peter Sprigg

February 26, 2017

Contrary to almost all the news reporting on this story, the real question addressed by the new administration's guidance is not (at least not directly), "Which restrooms or locker rooms should students who identify as transgender use?" Instead, it is something much simpler - "Who gets to decide?" The answer that President Trump's administration has now given is also simple: "Not us. Not the federal government."The Trump administration policy will open the door for such accommodations to ensure that the legitimate needs and concerns of all students are met.

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Trump Reverses Federal Bathroom Folly. Will Fairfax Follow?

The Stream commentary by Cathy Ruse

February 23, 2017

Earlier this month a high school freshman named "Katie" (a pseudonym) was forced to sit through a highly politicized LGBT lesson at the beginning of Math class, via closed circuit TV. Her parents were not given the opportunity to opt her out. They weren't even given notice. "After watching the video, it was my impression that the Fairfax County school district was attempting to force me to believe in something that doesn't respect my beliefs," Katie told the Fairfax County School Board at a recent meeting. "The whole situation made me feel stressed and uncomfortable." For its reversal of the Obama edict, the Trump administration earns high marks in Biology, Social Studies, and Comparative Religion. Unfortunately, the Fairfax County School Board seems to care only about being politically correct.

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Trump stance on religious liberty leaves social conservatives nervous

Washington Times

February 19, 2017

Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, called on Mr. Trump to "get moving on religious liberty. The issue of religious liberty is one of the most important for people of faith, who happen to be the key voting [bloc] most responsible for electing Donald Trump as president," Mr. Brown wrote in a letter to supporters last week. "Evangelicals voted over 80 percent for Mr. Trump, and Catholics went for him by 52 percent. Now it's time for the administration to act to protect people of faith from being discriminated against because of their faith." The primary source of frustration for the religious right is Mr. Trump's inaction on former President Obama's executive order requiring some religious groups, including charities and relief organizations, not to discriminate against employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity in order to receive federal contracts. A draft of an executive order repealing that mandate circulated in the media and immediately drew the ire of the LGBT movement. Politico reported the repeal effort was squashed by the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner.

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How to Think About Discrimination: Race, Sex, and SOGI

Witherspoon Institute commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

February 14, 2017

In a new report for the Heritage Foundation, "How to Think About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Policies and Religious Freedom," I argue that current proposals to create new LGBT protections with varying types of religious exemptions will not result in what advocates claim is "Fairness for All." Instead, they will penalize many Americans who believe that we are created male and female and that male and female are created for each other-convictions that the Supreme Court of the United States, in Obergefell v. Hodges, recognized are held "in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world." As I explain in the report, current SOGI laws, including "Fairness for All," lack the nuance and specificity necessary for cases they seek to address. They take the existing paradigm of public policy responses to racism and sexism and assume that this paradigm is appropriate for the policy needs of people who identify as LGBT. This is misguided for both conceptual and practical reasons.

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No, Religious Liberty Won't Yank Health Care From Trans And Post-Abortive People

The Federalist commentary by "Joseph Turner"

February 3, 2017

By Mark Joseph Stern's Slate account, the ACA regulation in question merely "forbade doctors from discriminating against transgender patients or women who've previously had abortions." He mocks O'Connor for defining "sex" as a binary biological reality. He asserts: "[U.S. District Court Judge Reed] O'Connor held that treating transgender patients-and even insuring transgender patients-‘substantially burdens' insurance companies and hospitals' ‘exercise of religion.'" After reading these accounts, one might find the actual text of O'Connor's order rather anticlimactic. The first thing they might notice is that the decision is clearly, unmistakably focused on protecting religious objectors from performing or supporting sex changes and abortions. That's it. What you won't find anywhere in the order's 46 pages is any mention, or even the slightest hint of a suggestion, that the ruling is intended to allow doctors to refuse treatment to patients for no other reason than because they identify as trans or have had abortions. 

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Transgender movement's new frontier: The War on Medicine

Conservative Review commentary by Nicole Russell

February 1, 2017

Last May, the Health and Human Services Department implemented a mandate, which would have required doctors perform gender transition procedures on children - even if they think it would be harmful - and forced "all private insurance companies and many employers to cover gender transition procedures or face severe penalties and legal action." It applied to almost nearly every doctor in the U.S. and would have cost health care providers and taxpayers approximately $1 billion. However, a Catholic hospital system, several states, and an association of nearly 18,000 doctors challenged this regulation and on New Year's Eve, a Texas court struck down this harmful mandate. In a press release, Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket Law, which filed a lawsuit against the regulation commented,"This is a common-sense ruling: The government has no business forcing private doctors to perform procedures on children that the government itself recognizes can be harmful and exempts its own doctors from performing." (orig. pub. 1/25/16) 

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"Transgender" Is Not A Federal Civil Rights Category

Daily Caller commentary by Thomas Ascik

February 1, 2017

In Franciscan Alliance v. Burwell, a case originating in Texas, Christian medical associations, citing religious liberty, and eight states, citing the Tenth Amendment, sued to stop the Obama administration from forcing them to provide "gender transition surgery" and abortion. The Franciscan Alliance identified itself as providing "faith-based, integrated healthcare," and the Christian Medical Association stated its purpose as "integrating faith with professional practice." The federal district court ruled on the last day of 2016 that "the text, structure, and purpose" of Title IX showed that Congress unambiguously "intended to prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of the biological differences between males and females." Since the passage of Title IX in 1972. Congress had had several legislative opportunities, the court observed, to expand or replace "sex" with "gender." - "If Congress had intended to enact a new, different, or expansive definition of sex discrimination" in the Affordable Care Act, "it knew how to do so." In ruling that the words "sex" and "gender" had different legal meanings, the court also referred to outside sources, including from the gay and transgender community, as in this statement from a transvestite journal, "I, at least, know the difference between sex and gender."

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Trump Should Rescind Obama's Transgender Agenda and Protect Religious Liberty

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

February 1, 2017

Religious charities shouldn't have to give up their mission and identity simply because they partner with the government in serving the public. In addition to proactively protecting the rights of Americans to hire for religious mission and to act on the conviction that marriage is the union of husband and wife, Trump should also rescind the various Obama executive actions that caused these problems. A statement from the Trump administration notes that Trump was the "first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression." Trump can and should protect all Americans from violence and oppression, but he should not go along with Obama's policies of elevating "sexual orientation and gender identity" to a protected class. The First Amendment Defense Act and similar religious liberty provisions oppress no one-they protect Americans from government-sponsored discrimination and coercion.

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Federal Judge: Regulation Suppressing Religious Diversity of Health Providers is Illegal

IRFA News commentary by Stanley Carlson-Thies

January 19, 2017

The court reminded the federal Department of Health and Human Services, the issuer of the regulations, that when Congress, as in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), prohibits "sex" discrimination, that's what it is prohibiting, not also discrimination on the basis of "gender identity" and "termination of pregnancy." Congress can expand nondiscrimination requirements, but the regulators cannot just do the same thing on their own. ...Part of the judge's reasoning in stopping the regulation is that it would essentially prohibit a doctor from refusing to perform certain procedures even though the doctor is sure that the procedure will harm, rather than help, the patient-and despite the fact that the federal government itself is doubtful that transition procedures are always positive.

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Federal Court Blocks Transgender Mandate

Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission newsletter

January 6, 2017

Had the rule gone into effect, Christian doctors could have lost their jobs or been sued for discrimination for refusing to perform gender transition procedures on children. The mandate would have also required most private health insurance policies to cover transition procedures for minors. The injunction is thus a significant step in protecting children, religious liberty, and rights of conscience for healthcare workers. In a comment about this lawsuit last October, ERLC president Russell Moore told Baptist Press, "Though confusion over gender and sexual identity is real and should be met with compassion, it would be a travesty for the federal government to steamroll consciences in the name of ideology."

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VICTORY in HHS transgender mandate case

Becket Fund wins nationwide injunction for Christian Medical Association, others

December 31, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Moments ago a Texas court protected the rights of families and their doctors to make medical decisions for their child free from government bureaucrats' interference. The court ruling comes after eight states, an association of almost 18,000 doctors, and a Catholic hospital system challenged a federal regulation that requires doctors to perform gender transition procedures on children, even if the doctor believes the treatment could harm the child. "This is a common-sense ruling: The government has no business forcing private doctors to perform procedures that the government itself recognizes can be harmful, particularly to children, and that the government exempts its own doctors from performing," said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket Law, which filed a lawsuit against the new federal regulation. Becket Law defended Franciscan Alliance, a religious hospital network sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, and the Christian Medical Association from the new government regulation. The States of Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Arizona, and Mississippi joined Becket's legal challenge.

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Corporations Can Push Back Against Anti-Religious Freedom Activists

FRC blog commentary by Travis Weber

November 18, 2016

One important bit of recent religious liberty news which hasn't gotten much attention is the pushback by Proctor & Gamble shareholders against anti-religious freedom activists seeking to eliminate corporate neutrality and enlist large firms in their culture war exploits. This is a promising development, and shows that large corporations abandoning their neutrality and enlisting in the battle against religious freedom is not inevitable. When it was recently proposed that the "company should join Apple, PayPal, Disney, and others in the political fight against religious freedom laws in Mississippi and Tennessee and should take a stand against North Carolina's transgender restroom policy," 94% of shareholders rejected the idea. Such a rejection shows there is sanity in the corporate world, after all.

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Lawsuit Challenges Federal Regulation Forcing Doctors to Provide Gender Transition Treatment for Children

CNS News

November 14, 2016

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state of North Dakota and health providers challenging a federal regulation that would force doctors and others to perform gender transition procedures on children even if it's believed these procedures could harm a child. "No doctor should be forced to perform a procedure that he or she believes will harm a child," said Lori Windham, senior counsel of the fund. "Decisions on a child's medical treatment should be between families and their doctors, not dictated by politicians and government bureaucrats."

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Make Religious Freedom Great Again

Public Discourse commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

November 11, 2016

The reduction of religious liberty to mere freedom of worship is a hallmark of the Obama years. Houses of worship, for example, were exempted from the HHS Obamacare contraception and abortifacient mandate. But religious schools, like Wheaton College, and religious charities and communities, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, were merely "accommodated"-offered a different way to comply with the mandate while still violating their beliefs. A Trump administration can fix this right away. President-Elect Trump can instruct his Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide robust religious liberty protections to the HHS mandate. And Congress can pass legislation, which Trump can sign, to repeal and replace Obamacare. Likewise, the Obama administration has engaged in a series of executive actions-some of which were likely unlawful-to advance a radical transgender agenda. This, too, Trump can end.


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Defending conscience rights at Hacksaw Ridge and in the HHS cases

First Things commentary by Matthew Kacsmaryk

November 4, 2016

On May 18, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued its Final Rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Like previous federal laws, Section 1557 forbids healthcare providers from discriminating against individuals due to their race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Unlike previous federal laws, however, the new Section 1557 rule redefines the protected class "sex" to include three new categories not listed in the original non-discrimination statutes: (1) "gender identity," (2) "sex stereotyping," and (3) "termination of pregnancy"-with no express religious exemption or accommodation for conscience rights. In the three months since Section 1557 took effect, the ACLU has filed lawsuits against Catholic healthcare providers Dignity Health (California) and Ascension Health (Michigan). 

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Challenging transgender quackery

The Washington Times editorial

October 27, 2016

Rule-makers in Washington, however, want to require doctors to perform "gender-reassignment" procedures even when their professional judgment says no. Political fashion shouldn't trump sound medicine. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule, which took effect in July, was challenged last week in a U.S. District Court in Texas by a wide-ranging coalition of church-affiliated hospitals and doctors, and eight states. "With a single stroke of the pen, HHS has created massive new liability for thousands of doctors unless they cast aside their professional judgment, convictions and common sense to perform procedures that can be deeply harmful to their patients," wrote the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, representing plaintiffs from Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Arizona, and Mississippi.

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Legal analysis: Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare)

Holland & Knight commentary by Nathan Adams IV and Erica Gooden

October 26, 2016

But many religious institutions have expressed concern that Section 1557 infringes upon the religious and moral convictions of healthcare providers, insurers and other stakeholders. Section 1557 expands the definition of "sex discrimination" by defining discrimination "on the basis of sex" to include "discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery therefrom, childbirth or related medical conditions, sex stereotyping, and gender identity." Under Section 1557, "gender identity" is defined as "an individual's internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female, and which may be different from an individual's sex assigned at birth." Moreover, this prohibition against discrimination "on the basis of sex" also prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender expression and transgender status.

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Doctors, states oppose HHS transgender mandate

Baptist Press

October 26, 2016

Thousands of healthcare providers and eight states are challenging a new federal rule that requires doctors to perform gender transition procedures or treatments even on children. The latest transgender directive from the Obama administration mandates physicians carry out such gender-altering measures even if they believe they could prove harmful or would violate their religious and ethical beliefs. Healthcare providers who refuse to abide by the regulation might face imposing fines and the loss of their jobs. Lori Windham, senior counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said in a written release, "It is absurd for the government to think it can better decide what is best for a child over parents or a medically trained professional. Doctors should be free to use their best medical judgment and do what is in the best interest of a child, free from political agendas and interference by bureaucrats." The Becket Fund is representing the rule's challengers, which consist of the Christian Medical Association; the Franciscan Network, a group of Catholic hospitals; and the states of Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Texas and Wisconsin.

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Congressional letter questions HHS transgender mandate

The Becket Fund news release

October 12, 2016

Over 45 concerned Congressional representatives, led by Congressman Joe Pitts, wrote a letter to Health & Human Services (HHS) demanding clarification on its recent transgender mandate and how it will interfere in doctor-patient relationships and harm children, especially gay and lesbian children. The letter voices concern that the new HHS transgender mandate forces doctors to perform gender transition procedures on children, even if the doctor believes they could be harmful to the patient, and disregards published medical science and best medical judgment. Members of Congress also highlight the irony of HHS’s refusal to protect decisions that should be left between a family and their doctor considering the government’s own military health plan explicitly protects a doctor’s medical judgement regarding gender transition procedures for service men and women. “Sensitive, difficult medical decisions should be between a family and their doctor, not government bureaucrats,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed a lawsuit against the new federal regulation. “Doctors should be free to use their best medical judgment, informed by science and led by their Hippocratic Oath, to do what is in the best interest of a child.”

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Representatives protest Obamacare transgender reg

US House of Representatives letter

October 6, 2016

First, this rule for the first time in history requires doctors to perform gender transition procedures or treatments on patients including children, even if the doctor believes the procedures could be harmful. Second, HHS's own experts have acknowledged that the clinical literature is "inconclusive " on whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries with gender dysphoria, and that some studies have "reported harms." Third, in other contexts where the government requires services related to gender transition procedures, the government has clearly protected the medical judgment and moral or religious beliefs of healthcare professionals. Fourth, the number of doctors and healthcare providers covered by this rule is breathtaking. By HHS's own estimation, this rule will "likely cover almost all licensed physicians," which you estimate as totaling over 900,000. Finally, the rule purports to prohibit discrimination on the basis of "termination of pregnancy ."

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Meet the Senator Opposing Obama's Mandate for Transgender Bathrooms in Schools

Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

October 5, 2016

But instead of attacking the Obama administration on the policy itself, which allows transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity instead of their biological sex, Lankford is taking a different approach. The 48-year-old senator is challenging the process the executive branch used to implement the sweeping policy, arguing that it was wholly unlawful. "This administration has been notoriously focused not on passing legislation, but trying to find ways to be able to do things through regulation," Lankford told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. "But even as they try to do things through regulation, they're not trying to actually follow the rules of regulation-they're just making it up as they go, and trying to push as hard as they can and saying, ‘Sue me ... I'm going to do what I want.'"

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Texas and four other states file another lawsuit over Obama transgender rules

Dallas Morning News

August 23, 2016

Texas and four other Republican-led states filed another lawsuit Tuesday seeking to roll back the Obama administration's efforts to strengthen transgender rights, saying new federal nondiscrimination health rules could force doctors to act contrary to their medical judgment or religious beliefs. Joining Texas in the lawsuit are Wisconsin, Kentucky, Nebraska and Kansas, along with the Christian Medical and Dental Association and Franciscan Alliance, an Indiana-based network of religious hospitals. "It discards independent medical judgment and a physician's duty to his or her patient's permanent well-being and replaces them with rigid commands," the lawsuit states.

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USCCB, others oppose HHS gender-bender proposed rule

Official comment

August 12, 2016

The proposed regulations would forbid discrimination on the bases of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." In these comments, we identify and discuss four problems relating to this prohibition. The first concerns the statutory authority under which CMS claims to be promulgating the regulations. The second concerns interpretations of the proposed prohibition that could interfere with a hospital's professional judgment about what procedures or services are ethical, medically appropriate, or in a patient's best interest. The third concerns interpretations of the proposed prohibition that could compromise the health, safety, or privacy of other patients. The fourth concerns the right of religiously affiliated hospitals to carry out their mission free from government coercion to violate their religious beliefs, a right safeguarded, sometimes with reference to particular procedures and sometimes in more general terms, in federal law. Download file 1608 USCCB et al comment CMS gender bender rule.pdf 

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Video: Title IX & Transgender Bathrooms in Public Schools

Federalist Society video featuring Roger Severino

August 5, 2016

Roger Severino oversees the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, where he focuses on religious liberty, marriage, and life issues. In this video, Severino comments on a joint guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education on how schools should apply Title IX to the bathroom choices of transgender students.

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Christian Mingle settlement: Using laws to reduce marketplace choices

IRFA commentary by Stanley Carlson-Theiss

July 22, 2016

A group of religious dating sites has agreed to stop restricting users to opposite-sex matches after being charged under California's Unruh Act that prohibits sexual-orientation discrimination in public accommodations.,, and are now required to facilitate searches for same-sex partners, whatever the business model of the parent company or the convictions of its owners concerning intimate relationships. And yet the outcome of the court settlement is a less diverse marketplace.

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Pentagon issues sex change manual, allows extended time off for process

Washington Times

July 14, 2016

n announcing his intention to remove the ban on transgender personnel, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last year said the rules were "outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions." Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer who has opposed President Obama's policy of gays in the military and women in land combat, said Mr. Carter is "delusional if he believes our military needs transgenders/transsexuals to remain the ‘finest fighting force in the world.' Transsexuals suffer from more psychiatric pathologies than the general population, and active suicide ideation and major depression episodes occur more frequently within this group," Mr. Maginnis said. "Creating a bureaucracy to sort out transgender issues will go down in the history of our armed forces as the worst waste of defense dollars ever.

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Texas attorney general attacks Obama's directive on transgender students

Washington Post

July 7, 2016

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton leveled sharp criticism against the Obama administration's directive to the nation's schools that they must make accommodations for transgender students, calling it a "gun to the head" that threatens the independence of school districts to handle the issue how they see fit. Paxton, who has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration challenging its position, railed Thursday against the guidance to schools that directs them to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity. "There are a host of reasons why allowing 14-year-old boys into girls' locker rooms is a bad idea," Paxton said. Paxton spoke alongside Roger Severino, director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, and attorney Kyle Duncan, all three of them assailing the Obama administration's approach to transgender rights.

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Five Things You Need to Know About DoD's New Gender Identity Polic

Daily Signal commentary by Daniel Briggs

July 6, 2016

Last week, the Department of Defense ended its recognition of service members' biology and supplanted it with a radical ideology pushed by the Obama administration. As other commentators pointed out recently (here and here), there is no military justification for this move. 1. Military medical providers' religious freedom, freedom of conscience, and professional discretion are threatened. 2. According to the new policy, discrimination based on gender identity is a form of sex discrimination. 3. The accommodation language means...what, exactly? 4. Standards are now anything but standard. 5. The Department of Defense looked beyond our borders for justification.

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New Obama administration rule will fuel prosecution of health professionals who follow biology over ideology

Freedom2Care blog by Jonathan Imbody

June 23, 2016

If you as a health professional or your healthcare institution stick to the scientific view of male and female as biologically determined, the Obama administration and lawyers around the country now have a new weapon with which to stick it to you. Any health professional or institution that receives federal (HHS) funding and treats or counsels transsexual patients, prescribes hormone therapy, performs procedures related to sexuality or has a gender-specific bathroom, changing facility or shower area will suddenly encounter sweeping new dictates designed to enforce a non-biological, ideological view of human sexuality. Action Opportunity: If you as a health professional and/or your healthcare institution have been or may be affected by these new regulations, please use the Freedom2Care form to let us know.

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Our Constitutional Right to Privacy Is Missing From Bathroom Debate

Daily Signal commentary by Matt Sharp

May 26, 2016

Stephanie has several children that came to her through a foster program. If you met them on the street, you would never suspect that two of her daughters had suffered severe molestation and rape by men that they trusted. For these girls, feeling safe and secure in private settings-such as bedrooms, bathrooms, and locker rooms-is necessary to heal. And to feel safe, these girls need to know that their private spaces will not be invaded by a male. You would think that the school these girls attend would be especially protective of them. You would be wrong. The school voluntarily adopted a policy that would allow boys into the girls' restrooms, locker rooms, and even hotel rooms on school trips. The school callously ignored Stephanie's explanation that the presence of a boy in these private settings would be a trigger event for her daughters, causing severe psychological harm and setting back the progress they had made.

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43 Republicans Join Democrats to Support Obama's Transgender Agenda

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

May 26, 2016

On Wednesday night, 43 Republican members of Congress joined the Democrats to vote for President Barack Obama's transgender agenda. Whereas last week Congress voted to reject this proposal-known as the Maloney Amendment-last night they voted to ratify Obama's 2014 executive order barring federal contractors from what it describes as "discrimination" on the basis of "sexual orientation and gender identity" in their private employment policies. And, of course, "discrimination" on the basis of "gender identity" can be something as simple as having a bathroom policy based on biological sex, not gender identity, as we learned last week from Obama's transgender directives. And "discrimination" on the basis of "sexual orientation" can be something as reasonable as an adoption agency preferring married moms and dads for orphans, than other arrangements.

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Faith-based physicians adopt transgender identification ethics statement

Christian Medical Association

May 23, 2016

CMA affirms the historic and enduring Christian understanding of humankind as having been created male and female. CMA has concerns about recent usage of the term "gender" to emphasize an identity other than one's biological sex, that is, a sense of self based on subjective feelings or desires of identifying more strongly with the opposite sex or with some combination of male and female. CMA affirms the obligation of Christian healthcare professionals to care for patients struggling with gender identity with sensitivity and compassion. CMA holds that attempts to alter gender surgically or hormonally for psychological indications, however, are medically inappropriate, as they repudiate nature, are unsupported by the witness of Scripture, and are inconsistent with Christian thinking on gender in every prior age. Accordingly, CMA opposes medical assistance with gender transition on the following grounds...

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New Obamacare Transgender Regulations Threaten Freedom of Physicians

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

May 13, 2016

These regulations threaten the religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and independent medical judgment of health care professionals. And, just as they did in the transgender school policy the Obama administration announced this morning, the administration has created these new Obamacare regulations by redefining "sex" to mean "gender identity." These regulations will create serious conflicts of conscience for many organizations, hospitals, physicians, and other individuals involved in healthcare. By prohibiting differential treatment on the basis of "gender identity" in health services, these regulations will penalize medical professionals and health care organizations that, as a matter of faith, moral conviction, or professional medical judgment, believe that maleness and femaleness are biological realities to be respected and affirmed, not altered or treated as diseases.

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DOJ's Lawsuit Against North Carolina Is Abuse of Power

Daily Signal commentary by Roger Severino

May 9, 2016

I'm very disappointed in my former colleagues at the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. They know very well that when Congress banned discrimination "on the basis of sex" in 1964 and 1972, it did not mean "gender identity." It disrespects the very notion of the rule of law for them to hold otherwise, but that is exactly what they have done by threatening North Carolina with lawsuits, fines, and revocation of federal funds because they dared to write in law what most people consider simple common sense-that biological men should not be given unfettered access to public bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms set aside for the needs, safety, and privacy of biological women.

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What the 'bathroom wars' tell us about our culture

Washington Examiner commentary by Kim Holmes

May 2, 2016

No, they must press their agenda with obnoxious boycotts, draconian court rulings and by rewriting the laws to force their views on everyone else. Tolerance is not enough. They demand complete and utter conformity to their point of view. Why so authoritarian? The higher aim of progressive liberalism today is to deconstruct traditional morality, especially as it pertains to the family, marriage and sexual relations. The only way to enforce the new "tolerance" is not only to deny other people their rights - the rights of women and children to privacy in bathrooms, for example - but also to be intolerant of any kind of dissent whatsoever.

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Seven Questions About Transgender People, Answered

The Federalist

April 26, 2016

Dr. Paul McHugh’s conclusion corresponds with a strong body of research, two examples here and here. These studies show that from 2 to 27 percent of children with gender dysphoria (feeling their gender does not match their biology) retain that perspective by the time they reach puberty (meaning 73 to 98 percent of these children revert to a desire to match their birth sex). This is the primary reason the major clinicians who work with such children in the Americas and Europe do not recommend that parents facilitate their children’s desire to transition to the other gender before puberty. It would require a troubling and traumatic “second transition” back to their natural gender when they do desist.

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Liberals' Double Standard on Bathrooms, Boycotts, and Religious Freedom

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

April 11, 2016

if these boycotts are really a matter of principle—and not just grandstanding—then why do so many of these same companies do business in foreign countries with terrible records on human rights in general, and for LGBT people in particular? The governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, pointed out this hypocrisy. After New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a travel ban for state employees to North Carolina, Gov. McCrory asked how it was consistent with Gov. Cuomo’s trip to Cuba—with state business leaders—to promote trade with that country. Others have pointed out the hypocrisy of PayPal. The CEO of PayPal announced that the company wouldn’t expand in North Carolina because of “PayPal’s deepest values and our strong belief that every person has the right to be treated equally, and with dignity and respect.” Really? Then PayPal might want to explain why its international headquarters are in Singapore, where people engaged in private consensual same-sex acts can face two years in jail.

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Setting the Record Straight: North Carolina Law Protects Everyone's Bodily Privacy

Daily Signal commentary by Kelly Fiedorek

April 1, 2016

Public restrooms are places where women and girls may shower, change their clothes, handle personal grooming issues, and take care of many other private matters unique to females. Many people are uncomfortable merely discussing these topics, so imagine the discomfort when women have to do such activities with males present. Women and girls shouldn’t be forced to conduct these private activities in a confined space with male strangers present. Consider especially that girls and women who have been sexually abused will suffer the additional trauma of being compelled to engage in their most intimate activities in the immediate company of male strangers. 

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Georgia Governor Caves to Big Business, Vetoes Religious Freedom Bill

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

March 28, 2016

Georgia’s Republican Governor Nathan Deal has caved to pressure from big business and special interests and vetoed a very modest religious liberty bill. The Georgia religious freedom bill that Deal vetoed would have safeguarded clergy from having to officiate same-sex weddings, prevented faith-based organizations from being forced to hire someone who publicly undermines their mission, and prohibited the state government from discriminating against churches and their affiliated ministries because they believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

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NBA's Threatening North Carolina Is Textbook Cultural Cronyism

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

March 28, 2016

Big business and special interest groups are threatening boycotts. The mayor of San Francisco issued an order to “to bar any publicly-funded city employee travel to the State of North Carolina.” ThinkProgress reports that IBM, PayPal, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Salesforce are all against the law. The ACLU has even lodged a federal lawsuit against North Carolina. The NBA has said North Carolina’s law might make it move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte. The NBA threat over the All-Star Game is particularly amusing. The NBA (and its sister organization, the WNBA) apparently think bathroom access shouldn’t be based on biology, but basketball leagues should. The NBA and WNBA, of course, are free to have gender-neutral basketball teams—and to have gender-neutral bathrooms at those games. That they are threatening the state to impose a policy that even they haven’t voluntarily adopted is the height of hypocrisy.

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USCCB, CMA, CLS, ERLC and others protest proposed gender regs

Comments to Civil Rights Center, U.S. Department of Labor

March 24, 2016

The regulations proposed by DOL are objectionable, however, because, without statutory authority and in some respects in direct violation of relevant federal statutes, they-
• define "sex" to include "transgender status" and "gender identity."
• define sex discrimination to include differential treatment on the basis that the individual "identifies with a gender different from that individual's sex assigned at birth."
• define sex discrimination to include differential treatment on the basis that "the individual has undergone, is undergoing, or is planning to undergo, any processes or procedures designed to facilitate the individual's transition to a sex other than the individual's sex assigned at birth."
• define sex discrimination to include "[d]enying individuals access to the bathrooms used by the gender with which they identify."
• fail to recognize or enforce the exceptions to sex discrimination under Title IX, exceptions that are expressly referenced in Section 188 of the WIOA.

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A Userís Guide To Free Expression And Bathroom Sanity

The Federalist commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

March 4, 2016

One answer is to protect privacy at the bathroom and accommodate transgender students. But LGBT activists don't like this at all. Their official policy is that boys who identify as girls should have unfettered access to girls' bathrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities. Earlier this year South Dakota crafted an even-handed policy respectful of everyone's interests. Unfortunately, the governor caved to special interest hysterics. The South Dakota bill would have prevented biological males who identify as girls from using girls' private facilities in public schools, but it also would have required local school officials to make reasonable accommodations for such students, such as providing access to single-occupancy facilities. A win-win arrangement for everyone, it would have protected all students' privacy and safety and created new accommodations for transgender students.

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What Locker Rooms Should Boys Who Identify as Girls Be Allowed to Use?

Daily Signal commentary by Roger Severino

February 19, 2016

The only reason this proposal is controversial comes back to the fight over how exactly one defines a girl or a boy. Sensitive to the emotions surrounding this issue, the bill requires schools to accommodate students who don't identify with their biological sex by providing them reasonable access to alternate facilities, such as unisex bathrooms or private changing rooms, if requested by their parents. As a result, students that identify as transgender will have more options than those who do not. Yet this reasonable balance has not placated the left, which is trying to bully South Dakota into reversing course under the charge of "discrimination."

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State Could Become First to Stop Transgender Students From Using Opposite-Sex Bathrooms

The Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

February 6, 2016

The legislation requires that a "reasonable accommodation" be made for students asserting their gender is different from their biological sex, and described a reasonable accommodation as "one that does not impose an undue hardship on a school district," "a single-occupancy restroom," "a unisex restroom," or the "controlled use of a restroom, locker room or shower room that is designated for use by faculty." Deutch views his legislation as a necessary response to what he considers "aggressive" actions on behalf of the Obama administration to ensure schools comply with guidance they issued in April 2014.

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Could it soon be illegal for doctors to believe in male and female?

CNA commentary by Loredana Vuoto

February 3, 2016

A current proposal by a federal agency has raised concerns that doctors may be punished for believing that there are only two genders, rooted in biological sex. Gender identity is defined as "an individual's internal sense of gender, which may be different from an individual's sex assigned at birth." As a result, doctors and medical institutions could be penalized - or even forced out of business - if they are not willing to perform or facilitate sex reassignment surgeries and other "gender transition" treatments for individuals who identify as transsexual. Critics of the suggested regulation say that it is a radical proposal that could result in severe penalties for doctors who cannot in good conscience comply.

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Another Effort to Expand Definition of "Sex" Discrimination

IRFA commentary by Stanley Carlson-Thies

February 1, 2016

It gives no justification at all for its editing of the current WIOA nondiscrimination regulations in order to "replace[] ‘he or she' with ‘the individual,' ‘person,' or other appropriate identifier whenever possible to avoid the gender binary." And while the NPRM states that it is a "policy" commitment of the Department of Labor to ban sexual orientation discrimination, it admits that "[c]urrent law is mixed on whether existing Federal nondiscrimination laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as a part of their prohibitions on sex discrimination" and that no federal appeals court has ruled that way while some have ruled the opposite way. However, the administration is insistent on reaching its policy goals.

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Transgender student brings court fight over bathrooms to federal court

Richmond Times-Dispatch

January 27, 2016

A transgender student's fight to use a boys bathroom at his Gloucester County school went before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday. Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union asked a three-judge panel to overturn a district court's denial of a preliminary injunction.One point of contention throughout the hearing was the definition of gender, whether it was based on biological or psychological factors. Judge Andre M. Davis asked how the School Board defined gender when crafting the bathroom policy. "This is 2016," Davis said. "The question is what is the meaning of sex in 2016?" The U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice have come out in support of Grimm in court papers, saying the policy constitutes unlawful bias under Title IX.

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Sexual Assault Victims Speak Out Against Washington's Transgender Bathroom Policies

The Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

January 25, 2016

The Daily Signal met with Simon, Triller Haver, and Flores in Washington's state capital to learn why they're breaking their silence about their past experiences to fight what they believe are dangerous new policies. "There is no doubt in my mind that many, many people will be hurt with this kind of policy," Simon said. The policies, which went into effect Dec. 26, grant individuals full access to bathrooms, locker rooms and other gender-specific facilities in accordance with their chosen gender identity instead of their anatomical sex.

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LGBT Activists Target Christian Colleges over Title IX Exemptions

Christian Headlines

January 20, 2016

An LGBT activist group has singled out Christian colleges in a recent report, claiming they use religious liberty as a "guise for discrimination" against LGBT students. Since 2013, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 56 colleges have applied for partial exemptions to Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, citing views on transgenderism and homosexuality. The group is calling on Congress and the Department of Education to broadcast information about these schools to prospective students.

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The Left's Attack on Religious Liberty Could Break America

National Review commentary by David French

December 15, 2015

To understand the level of contempt for religious liberty, consider - for example - the words of Chai Feldblum, a commissioner of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, whose message for those who seek to exercise their religious freedom in the marketplace was chilling: "When someone has not been educated [about tolerance of LGBT individuals] and wants to keep discriminating . . . there is only one federal government, there is only one state government, one local government that can say: We will not tolerate this in our society." [But] since Obergefell, the Evangelical community has redoubled its commitment to orthodoxy. Those Christians who’ve fought back against domestic political repression — especially on college campuses — tend to emerge from the fight spiritually revitalized. A sense of resolve is spreading across the Evangelical world, a resolve every bit as strong as the resolve on the LGBT Left.


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Office of Civil Rights overreaches on transgender access to school locker rooms

AEIdeas commentary by Nat Malkus

December 1, 2015

Township High School District 211 in Illinois contends it has taken sufficient action to accommodate Student A and balance students' constitutional rights to privacy. After complaints from students and a parent regarding Student A's presence in a locker room, the District offered to provide Student A with separate private changing areas and to install privacy curtains inside the locker room, provided she was required to use them. District 211 based its actions on two specific privacy concerns: that female students would be observed undressing by a biological male, and that young female students would view a naked biological male. The Office of Civil Rights deemed these concerns invalid.

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Medical Malpractice in an Age of Gender Denial Disorder

Salvo commentary by Terrell Clemmons

December 1, 2015

"Medicine is a hard place for Christians these days," she observed. One can almost hear her sigh. "It seems to me that the battle is already lost. In the generation I am part of (I'm in my late 20s), I'm very much [in] the minority, especially in my field. The indoctrination they've put university-educated people through, and the discrimination against Christians and other social conservatives, both make my world feel very toxic at times. All discussion ends at "You bigot!"

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Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Laws Threaten Freedom

Heritage Backgrounder by Ryan T. Anderson

November 30, 2015

America is dedicated to protecting the freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution, while respecting citizens' equality before the law. None of these freedoms is absolute. Compelling governmental interests can at times trump fundamental civil liberties, but sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) laws do not pass this test. Rather, they trample First Amendment rights and unnecessarily impinge on citizens' right to run their local schools, charities, and businesses in ways consistent with their values. SOGI laws do not protect equality before the law; instead, they grant special privileges that are enforceable against private actors.

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