March 22, 2017 at 5:15 pm PDT | by Chris Johnson
GOP former senator calls on Trump to reject ‘religious freedom’ order
Alan Simpson, gay news, Washington Blade

Former U.S. Sen. Alan K. Simpson urged President Trump to reject an anti-LGBT executive order. (Washington Blade file photo)

Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson has become the latest voice calling on President Trump to reject a “religious freedom” order that would undermine LGBT rights.

In an op-ed published Wednesday in The New York Times, Simpson responds to what he says are “fringe-right groups and raging extremists” calling on Trump to sign an executive order enabling discrimination against LGBT people. Simpson’s advice to Trump is simple: “Don’t do it.”

“Aside from being cruel and ugly, permitting discrimination against LGBT Americans in the name of religion would fuel the progressive Democratic base, which devours these morsels of archaic predisposition and the expertly seizes on them — and the big bucks it raises would most likely be used to take you to court,” Simpson writes.

In a 2013 interview with the Washington Blade, Simpson said he sees no contradiction in his longstanding role as a conservative Republican and his support for equal rights for LGBT people. Simpson was among the Republicans who signed a brief in 2015 calling for the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, although he didn’t sign a similar brief in 2013 calling on the court to overturn California’s Proposition 8.

A draft version “religious freedom” executive order has circulated among federal advocacy groups and would enable discrimination on the basis of religious objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion and transgender identity. The proposed measure would gut former President Obama’s 2014 executive order barring anti-LGBT workplace discrimination against federal contractors, even the White House issued a statement indicating Trump had planned to keep the order intact.

Media reports indicated Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner convinced Trump not to sign the order, but White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said the administration will soon “have something” on the issue. However, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer during a recent news briefing the administration will “have something” on the religious freedom order.

Stephanie Grisham, a White House spokesperson, had no comment in response to the Simpson piece and whether the White House would rule out a religious freedom executive order that would allow anti-LGBT discrimination.

“When we have something for you we will let you know,” Grisham said.

Read the full op-ed at The New York Times.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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