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The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), one of the nation's leading LGBTQ advocacy groups, wasn't happy when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a task force last month that would focus on protecting Americans' religious liberty.
HRC, along with others, blasted the task force for being a way to protect discrimination against LGBTQ individuals:
THREAD: 1/ This taxpayer funded Religious Liberty Task Force is yet another example of the Trump-Pence White House and Jeff Sessions sanctioning discrimination against LGBTQ people. https://t.co/Z739npFkzd
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) July 30, 2018
In an op-ed published on Friday, HRC president, Chad Griffin, doubled down on that claim and compared religious entities to those that discriminated against African Americans during the civil rights era:
Efforts to wield religion as a weapon of discrimination are nothing new. This tactic was aggressively employed by segregationists and white supremacists in an effort to attack the fundamental equality and civil rights of black Americans. Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court held in the landmark civil rights case Newman v. Piggie Park that businesses could not cite religion to justify discriminating against black customers. The arguments for licensing discrimination against marginalized groups of American citizens on religious grounds were as flawed then as they are now.
Griffin implied that the Constitution's religious liberty guarantee did not protect discrimination.
“The Constitution already protects the ability to exercise one’s religion,” he said. “What our Constitution does not protect is using taxpayer funds to wield religion as a weapon of discrimination.”
HRC, as Griffin noted, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Tuesday to obtain “all records” associated with Sessions' task force:
.@HRC is demanding @TheJusticeDept release all records regarding the so-called “Religious Liberty Task Force.” With so many unanswered questions, the American people deserve nothing less than full transparency from their government. https://t.co/tYB5gC7beU
— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) August 8, 2018
“We are holding Sessions and this administration accountable to ensure that the DOJ acts with integrity and without discriminatory intent,” he said.
While Griffin's op-ed didn't pinpoint specific examples of discrimination, he did describe DOJ's task force as “based on the extreme ideology of a few.”
That ideology likely included allowing religious adoption agencies to deny same-sex couples service. HRC's press release also harped on Colorado baker, Jack Phillips, who refused to serve a same-sex wedding, indicting his legal representation as “anti-LGBTQ Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).”
In his prepared remarks on the task force, Sessions portrayed Phillips' situation as part of a broader attack on religious liberty in the United States.
“People of faith are facing a new hostility,” he said. “Really, a bigoted ideology which is founded on animus towards people of faith.”
He also accused the Southern Poverty Law Center, which Griffin cited in his op-ed, of bullying groups like ADL by labeling “hate groups.”
“We will not partner with groups that unfairly defame Americans for standing up for the Constitution or their faith,” Sessions said.