When the country’s chief law enforcement officer meets with a group that toils daily to hurt LGBTQ people, that’s deeply troubling. But when he goes out of his way to praise said anti-LGBTQ group, LGBTQ people have a good reason to be worried.
Not that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has every inspired confidence in anyone who cares about civil rights. Sessions has a long history of being a racist and, lo and behold, he doesn’t like LGBTQ people. Funny how those things tend to go together.
On July 11, Sessions spoke at the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Summit on Religious Liberty.
Now, that sounds nice. Who on earth could be against joining together to defend freedom? And wasn’t this country founded on religious liberty?
Alas, ADF’s definition of freedom is limited mainly to white heterosexual Christians. Ditto to religious freedom, especially if that religious freedom is being used to deny a couple of homos a wedding cake or something.
Oh, and wouldn’t you know it, ADF is currently representing a baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding. A case on its way to the Supreme Court.
No press was allowed, but Sessions’s prepared remarks were published online by The Federalist.
After quoting Washington, Jefferson, and Martin Luther King Jr. (to prove he’s not racist), Sessions lamented how hard it is to be Christian in America.
“The cultural climate has become less hospitable to people of faith and to religious belief,” Sessions said. “And in recent years, many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack.”
Yes. This checks out. If you are Muslim, that is (or another religion practiced predominantly by people who aren’t white and is thus swept up in anti-Muslim hysteria). Anyone who says it’s hard being Christian in America doesn’t know what “hard” means and likely doesn’t know what “Christian” means, either.
Sessions continued, “The challenges our nation faces today concerning our historic First Amendment right to the ‘free exercise’ of our faith have become acute.”
Again, no. The only thing acute here is the Christianity Persecution Complex on display.
Sessions did say something I agree with. He spoke of the government having a role “to provide the great secular structure” that is supposed to protect everybody’s rights.
He then undermines this very concept: “This Department of Justice will never allow this secular government of ours to demand that sincere religious beliefs be abandoned. We will not require American citizens to give intellectual assent to doctrines that are contrary to their religious beliefs. And they must be allowed to exercise those beliefs as the First Amendment guarantees.”
Now, of course the DOJ shouldn’t restrict religious belief. But Sessions is clearly of the mind that by enforcing, say, anti-discrimination laws that are designed to protect LGBTQ people is tantamount to quashing the free speech of anti-LGBTQ people. Keep in mind that “religious freedom” has been used to defend things like slavery and segregation.
Sessions goes on to say, “Under this administration, religious Americans will be treated neither as an afterthought nor as a problem to be managed.”
Says the guy who supports a ban on Muslims.
Sessions has proved time and time again that he cannot be trusted to enforce this country’s civil rights laws. He has the right under the first amendment to say otherwise, but Americans have the freedom, for now at least, to call him a liar.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.