January 18, 2018
NGLCC, the business voice of the LGBT community, has issued the following statement on the Trump administration’s authorization of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, authored by Co-Founder & President Justin Nelson and Co-Founder & CEO Chance Mitchell:
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, ostensibly designed to protect the religious freedoms of the estimated 80,000 government employees currently working in the department. In reality, the establishment of this new division continues the Trump administration’s efforts to systematically dismantle the protections granted to our most vulnerable communities, including women, immigrants, and LGBT Americans, in the name of religious freedom.
In a statement from HHS, Director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights Roger Severino said: “No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral or religious convictions and the new division will help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice.”
This dangerous line of thinking from Severino and others in the Trump administration will ease the way for doctors, nurses, researchers, emergency medical staff and other medical professionals to opt out of providing services to women, LGBT Americans, and other vulnerable communities if they believe that those services will violate their moral or religious beliefs.
Members of the LGBT community, especially members of the transgender community, are already considered particularly vulnerable populations in receiving adequate health care, and this initiative will likely widen the disparity. Women seeking comprehensive reproductive health care, particularly those from immigrant communities, may also see their access to birth control, abortion services, and other critical healthcare services reduced or blocked entirely.
This continuation of the Trump administration’s #LicenseToDiscriminate in the name of religious freedom is dangerous and must be stopped. Our community cannot thrive economically, politically, or in any other way if we do not have access to safe, accessible and comprehensive medical care free from discrimination. America’s 1.4 million LGBT business owners work hard every day to innovate and create new jobs and should not be forced to shoulder an additional burden if they or their employees are turned away from essential medical care.
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The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is the business voice of the LGBT community and is the largest global not-for-profit advocacy organization specifically dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people. NGLCC is the exclusive certification body for LGBT- owned businesses. www.nglcc.org @nglcc
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