WASHINGTON ― Rumors are swirling that President Donald Trump plans to sign a religious liberty executive order on Thursday that would, in effect, license the federal government to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
Details are murky, but media reports citing unnamed administration officials suggest Trump may sign off on allowing virtually any federally funded entity with a religious affiliation to refuse service to someone based on religious objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion or a transgender identity. A draft religious liberty executive order surfaced in February with similar provisions, but Trump later pulled it back, reportedly because of objections from daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, who have tried to project support for the LGBTQ community.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), one of few openly LGBTQ lawmakers on Capitol Hill, is hearing the “same distressing rumors” about Trump’s plan. And she’s wondering what happened to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who have gotten lots of attention for being moderating forces in the White House.
“The question I have today is, where are they now?” Baldwin said to HuffPost in a phone interview. “Ivanka wasn’t even a White House employee back then. She is now. In fact, I think I read in the past few days that she would be reviewing executive orders.”
Ivanka Trump does, in fact, review executive orders as part of her job as an unpaid White House aide.
Asked if she sees Ivanka Trump as an ally to the LGBTQ community, Baldwin said she’s just heard that the president’s daughter has argued against taking actions that would discriminate against the community.
“But she’s apparently not on the prevailing end of those arguments, if what we expect to happen tomorrow actually happens,” said the Wisconsin senator.
A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
For now, Baldwin and others are just waiting to see what Trump does. He’s definitely signing something related to religious freedom. Thursday is the National Day of Prayer, and the president wants to tie executive action to it. He and Vice President Mike Pence are hosting leaders of the White House evangelical advisory board for dinner.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Trump may scale back his plans and sign an executive order that makes it easier for churches and religious groups to actively participate in politics without risking their tax-exempt status.
Baldwin said even being a U.S. senator doesn’t mean she has a direct line to the president. She’s only talked to Trump once since he became president, at a White House reception for senators. She’s never gotten a call from him.
Asked if that made her sad, HuffPost heard only laughter on the other end of the phone. It was unclear if it was the senator or a member of her staff.