Members of the LGBT community were geared this week for President Trump to issue an executive order that would strike a serious blow against equality. But now sources are claiming First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, persuaded Trump to abandon a fiat covering religious freedom.
A draft of an executive order earlier this week outlined a sweeping plan to legalize anti-LGBT discrimination under the guise of religious liberty. According to the text, businesses and individuals would have the right to deny jobs, housing, services and even marriage certificates in the name of religion.
Politico reports two sources close to Ivanka and Kushner say the couple urged the president to instead issue his statement promising to uphold federal protections for LGBT Americans, “stopping the momentum for the turnaround in its tracks.”
“There are some in Trump’s family that have some views on these things,” said a source close to the discussions. “That’s where the decision is ultimately being made.”
On Tuesday, the White House stated President Trump “is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community… The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact.”
A White House source told Politico the draft religious-freedom order that circulated around Washington was just one of several hundred being considered and never would have reached Trump’s desk: “Some are real, some are drafts of things people like, and some are ideas people from outside have suggested.”
That White House insiders are writing up executive orders like Christmas wish lists—especially orders that curtail freedom—is hardly reassuring.
Evangelicals are still hopeful Trump will undo the progress on LGBT rights made by the Obama administration: The First Amendment Defense Act, now being introduced in Congress, would have much the same effect as an executive order, but be harder to undo.
“I feel confident that they have an appreciation of religious freedom, and I’m pretty certain they’re going to address it,” said Family Research Council head Tony Perkins. “I’m talking to people in the Trump administration, and I know they understand the importance of this.” Perkins added that the issue is of particular interest to Vice President Mike Pence, who signed anti-LGBT legislation into law as governor of Indiana.
Even if Ivanka and her husband managed to steer her father away from the order, the very fact that they have such influence is disturbing. As is the fact that they were not able—or didn’t try—to use it to prevent the Muslim ban.