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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden essentially confirmed that he will impose curbs on religious freedoms under the guise of prohibiting discrimination against protected groups.
In an interview with the Philadelphia Gay News published Wednesday, Biden blasted the Trump administration’s religious freedom policies, claiming they provided “hate” a “safe harbor” as a vehicle of “discrimination.”
“Donald Trump and Mike Pence have given hate against LGBTQ+ individuals safe harbor and rolled back critical protections for the LGBTQ+ community,” the former vice president said.
“By blocking the ability of transgender individuals to openly serve their country, denying LGBTQ+ people access to critical health care, proposing policies allowing federally funded homeless shelters to turn away transgender people and federally funded adoption agencies to reject same-sex couples, and failing to address the epidemic of violence against transgender people — particularly transgender women of color — the Trump-Pence Administration has led a systematic effort to undo the progress President Obama and I made,” he added.
Studies have shown there is no “epidemic of violence” against transgender Americans.
“It’s wrong to deny people access to services or housing because of who they are or who they love,” Biden added, suggesting that any attempt by religious organizations to adhere to their teachings was “discriminatory.”
But the outlet appeared to agree. “The idea of ‘religious freedom’ as a reason to allow discrimination has stoked divisiveness in this country. What can we do as a country to ensure that discrimination against LGBTQ people, no matter how it’s justified, does not happen?” the paper asked.
Biden accused the Trump administration and the president in particular of “deliberately [trying] to gut protections for the LGBTQ+ community by creating broad religious exemptions to existing nondiscrimination laws and policies that allow businesses, medical providers, and adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.”
“We need to root out discrimination in our laws, institutions, and public spaces. Religion should not be used as a license to discriminate, and as president, I will oppose legislation to deny LGBTQ+ equal treatment in public places,” the former VP said.
“I will immediately reverse discriminatory practices that Trump put in place and work to advance the rights of LGBTQ+ people widely,” he added.
In the same interview, Biden also vowed to pass the Equality Act during his first 100 days of office, legislation the administration says will “undermine parental and conscience rights,” including religious freedoms and choices.
The Democrat-controlled House passed the bill last year but the GOP-controlled Senate did not take it up.
According to Catholic Church leaders, “first and foremost” the legislation would be endangering to women and girls.
Catholics, pay attention! Joe Biden is on a collision course with the Catholic Church. https://t.co/DpR2LsMUgg
— CatholicVote.org (@CatholicVote) October 29, 2020
The bill adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the definition of “sex,” as well as the word “sex” where it does not currently exist in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, according to an explainer by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“The Equality Act would fortify regressive, sexist stereotypes by enshrining the notion that subjective feelings and preferences (such as hobbies, attire, emotional patterns, or style of interaction) are what define a woman or a man,” the explainer continued.
“By redefining ‘sex’ without physical meaning, the Equality Act would also remove legal recognition of women and girls, such as in Title IX, and risk eviscerating their hard-won consideration in areas including student scholarships and athletics,” it adds.
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