BREAKING: Dept of Health and Human Services announces #LicenseToDiscriminate division; national orgs respond

per LGBTQNation:

“The Department of Health and Human Services announced the creation of a new and dangerous division of the Office of Civil Rights today that will allow healthcare providers to deny care to LGBT people and pregnant women based on their religious beliefs.

The office is intended to give far right Christians a license to discriminate against LGBT people. The division would also be responsible for outreach and technical support for religious right organizations that oppose LGBT equality and abortion.

“President Trump’s Health and Human Services Department is playing with people’s lives in their latest attempt to upend LGBTQ rights,” Jerame Davis, Executive Director of Pride At Work, said in an emailed statement.

“This brand of so-called ‘religious freedom’ is a mockery of the fundamental religious protections provided by our Constitution. It is not ‘freedom’ of religion to use your faith as a weapon to harm others.”

Roger Severino, the head of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights, has actively opposed civil rights protections for minority communities. In his previous role as Director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society for the conservative Heritage Foundation, Severino spoke out against the regulations he is now tasked with upholding.

“It wasn’t enough to try to strip transgender Americans of their right to serve, roll back access to birth control, and attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. Now Trump, Pence, and their Republican cronies want to allow health care workers to discriminate and rip away access to medical care,” DNC Director of LGBTQ Media Lucas Acosta said.

“Any healthcare worker who has moral objections to providing medically necessary care to an entire vulnerable population is in the wrong line of work,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD.

“Denying a transgender person – or any person – life saving care if they walk into an emergency room is far from a moral act, it is unjust and dangerous. Trump, Pence, and Trump’s appointees have tried time and again to establish blatantly bigoted policies that harm transgender and gender non-conforming Americans, and history will neither forget nor forgive this Administration’s attacks on its own people.” ”


A stream of national organizations are releasing statements condemning the move by HHS. GLAAD, the National LGBTQ Taskforce, Transgender Law Center, and Family Equality Council shared their statements with the Out Alliance first this morning. Follow the hashtag #LicensetoDiscriminate on social media.

Trump Administration Openly Promotes Healthcare Discrimination towards Transgender Patients

New Health and Human Services department will grant religious and moral exemptions to healthcare providers who refuse to serve LGBTQ patients and other vulnerable communities

GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today denounced the Trump Administration for creating a new Health and Human Services Office for Human Rights department for the sole purpose of shielding healthcare workers who refuse to treat transgender patients, LGBTQ people, those living with HIV and AIDS, or those in need of abortion services in cases where they claim moral or religious objections to doing their job.

“Any healthcare worker who has moral objections to providing medically necessary care to an entire vulnerable population is in the wrong line of work,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. “Denying a transgender person – or any person – life saving care if they walk into an emergency room is far from a moral act, it is unjust and dangerous. Trump, Pence, and Trump’s appointees have tried time and again to establish blatantly bigoted policies that harm transgender and gender non-conforming Americans, and history will neither forget nor forgive this Administration’s attacks on its own people.”

Transgender and gender non-conforming people already face massive barriers when it comes to accessing healthcare. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s U.S. Transgender Survey, 19% of respondents reported being refused care became of their gender identity, and 28% were subjected to harassment in medical settings. This direct targeting of an already vulnerable community from the White House is part of a clear and dangerous pattern including revoking protections for trans students, the proposed trans military ban, and reportedly seeking to censor the word “transgender” from the Center of Disease Control budget documents.

This directive comes from Roger Severino, an anti-LGBTQ activist and former Heritage Foundation employee who Trump put in charge of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services. Severino is a defender of the discredited practice of conversion therapy, argued transgender service members “dishonors” the military, and insisted that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is “based not on any sort of hatred but, in fact, out of love.”


  • Criticized bans on scientifically-discredited “reparative therapy” and labeled being LGBT as being “against your biology”: “Unfortunately you’re seeing some states that are actually trying to criminalize any sex therapy that reinforces a person’s biology. They’re calling into question and passing bans on reparative therapy, is one name for it. And so it’s really an ideology that’s saying you can only go one way, against your biology, but if you try to do anything that enforces it, then we’re going to criminalize it.” (clip begins at 20:18 in audio a link)
  • Insists that anti-LGBTQ views are “actually decent and honorable beliefs based not on any sort of hatred but, in fact, out of love. It’s a vision of human flourishing, people who believe in marriage and believe in a biblical view of human sexuality, it’s out of love and because you believe this is the proper vision for human flourishing that leads to happiness and leads to childhood success, and there’s a lot of social science evidence backing those statements up.” (clip begins at 7:15 in audio at link)
  • In a column titled “Pentagon’s Radical New Transgender Policy Defies Common Sense,” he argued that the suggestion of transgender people serving openly in the military “dishonors [the] sacrifices” of “hundreds of thousands of veterans and current troops who were traumatized, wounded, or died fighting against Nazis, Communist aggressors, and terrorists, yet, believe that biological men should not be allowed into the same barracks and showers as women.”
  • In a joint Op-Ed with former Senator and anti-LGBT activist Jim Demint, he maligned the complexity of gender identity by insisting transgender rights supporters see sex as “merely a placeholder’ assigned at birth,’ much like a Social Security number, only far easier to change.” In same piece, he slighted trans teen Gavin Grimm as “a gender-dysphoric teen girl.”
  • Said of LGBT rights: “…same-sex marriage was merely the start, not end, of the left’s LGBT agenda. The radical left is using government power to coerce everyone, including children, into pledging allegiance to a radical new gender ideology over and above their right to privacy, safety, and religious freedom.”
  • Claims pushback against “religious freedom” bills (i.e. license-to-discriminate bills) is “really just a form of bullying.”
  • Stated that asking a student to address a transgender classmate with a proper pronoun is “equivalent to making them say two plus two equals five.”Then continued: “This is the logical conclusion to the Sexual Revolution (of the 1960s). Not only can you do what you want to do without anybody being able to say it’s wrong, but you can actually be whatever you want to be based on your subjective self-identification, regardless of biological realities.”
  • Insists that sexual orientation, unlike race, is an issue of “character.” (Begins at 10:05 at linked audio)
  • Co-authored an amicus brief urging the California Supreme Court to reject civil marriage equality based on religious grounds.


The National LGBTQ Task Force isn’t fooled; HHS’s new Division on Conscience and Religious Freedom is about legalizing discrimination

“No one should be denied care for being who they are,” –– Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force.

WASHINGTON-DC: In response to Health and Human Services announcement January 18 of a Division on Conscience and Religious Liberty, Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force issued the following statement:

We are not fooled: The new office announced this morning is meant to make it easier for people to discriminate, not to protect people of faith. Health professionals have a duty to care for all their patients regardless of one’s gender identity, sexual orientation, faith, creed, race, political views, gender, or disability, and no one should be denied care for being who they are.

The overwhelming majority of people of faith support health care access for women and LGBTQ people. There is no contradiction between meeting your duty to care for all people and living by your moral and religious conviction. All people deserve access to care, including transgender people, those seeking assisted suicide, and those seeking reproductive health services such as an abortion or sterilization.

The National LGBTQ Task Force works to secure full freedom, justice, equality, and equity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people. For over forty years, we have been at the forefront of the social justice movement by training thousands of organizers and advocating for change at the federal, state, and local level.



TLC condemns illegal HHS rule granting ‘license to discriminate’


Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Trump-Pence administration announced a new rule to allow medical providers to illegally discriminate against patients based on who they are, as long as the providers cite religion. Transgender Law Center, the largest national trans-led organization advocating self-determination for all people, issued the following statement from executive director Kris Hayashi:

“This extreme new HHS rule will quite possibly cost lives by giving medical providers cover not to treat people they disagree with, no matter how life-threatening or urgent the medical need. The rule grants an illegal license to discriminate against transgender people who come to the doctor or emergency room for help when our lives are in danger due to sickness, violence, or injury. It’s also an attack against all people, including many in the transgender community, who rely on critical care ranging from reproductive services to emergency services to HIV medication.

The agency charged with protecting our health is now inviting providers to deny life-saving medical care to people based on who we are. Once again, the Trump-Pence administration has shown they will do everything in their power to undermine the health and survival of transgender people. We will see them in court.”


Transgender Law Center (TLC) is the largest national trans-led organization advocating self-determination for all people. Grounded in legal expertise and committed to racial justice, TLC employs a variety of community-driven strategies to keep transgender and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for liberation.



NEW YORK – Family Equality Council strongly condemns the Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decision to allow medical providers to refuse treatment on religious grounds. The decision would allow health care providers to deny medical care for transgender people, for women seeking abortion-related services, and for the LGBTQ community, worsening existing health disparities and exposing already vulnerable populations to even greater discrimination. HHS announced today the creation of a new “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” within the Office of Civil Rights, in addition to a new rule, as reported by Politico, that would further empower HHS to shield health care providers who express religious or moral objections, and punish organizations that don’t allow workers to express such objections.

“Denying LGBTQ people and women medically necessary, potentially life-saving care is extremely dangerous,” said Rev. Stan J. Sloan, CEO of Family Equality Council.  “Allowing health and human services providers to refuse services to women or LGBTQ people based on personal, religious beliefs constitutes an attack on our community, our health, and our families.”

“Providing a license to discriminate hurts LGBTQ people and our children,” said Denise Brogan-Kator, Chief Policy Officer, “and it directly contravenes HHS’ own declaration that it is the government’s ‘principal agency for protecting the health of ALL Americans’” (emphasis added).

The harms and health consequences of service denials are well-documented. In the 2015 US Transgender Survey, 33% of respondents who sought health care in the last year experienced mistreatment because of being transgender—and nearly one-quarter (23%) avoided seeking health care when they needed it out of fear of discrimination.

In October 2017, Lambda Legal and Family Equality Council filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the Masterpiece Cakeshop Case detailing numerous cases of LGBTQ people and their children suffering harm due to discriminatory service denials both by medical professionals and by child service providers such as a day care center.  The brief includes an account of a same-sex couple in Tennessee who were turned away by multiple healthcare providers when seeking midwifery care, when trying to enroll in birthing classes, and again two years later when they tried to bring their son to a local childcare center. Another account featured in the brief tells the story of the child of a lesbian couple in Texas who was refused emergency treatment by a pediatric dentist who told the parent that “a child cannot have two mothers” and demanded to see the “real mother” and a birth certificate before treating the child.

Medical and child welfare associations have weighed in time and again, including last November to HHS, that service refusals, including those based on religious beliefs, harm health, children, and families.  The American Medical Association told HHS that “the AMA opposes any discrimination based on an individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, national origin, or age.”  The American Academy of Pediatrics told the agency that  “HHS should not provide grants and contracts to entities involved in child welfare services that engage in discrimination against children or families based on sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or faith,” and that “[p]olicies that single-out or discriminate against LGBTQ youth are harmful to social-emotional health and may have lifelong consequences.”

In response to reports of the new rule, Julie Kruse, Federal Policy Advocate, stated “Family Equality Council will remain vigilant in serving as a watchdog and advocating against HHS actions that harm our children and families.”

About Family Equality Council

Family Equality Council connects, supports, and represents the three million parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer in this country today and their six million children of all ages. We are changing attitudes and policies to ensure that all families are respected, loved, and celebrated—including families with parents who are LGBTQ. We are a community of parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren and unattached youth that reaches across this country. For almost forty years we have raised our children and raised our voices toward fairness for all families. As we look to the next chapter of our work, we are also focused on LGBTQ youth needing families and the two million LGBTQ adults waiting to foster or adopt in our country. To learn more, visit

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