AG Healey: Trump Executive Order On Religious Freedom May Land This Week (UPDATED)

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UPDATE (3:30 p.m): White House confirmed in a statement Tuesday that LGBT protections will remain in place:  “The President is proud to have been the first ever GOP (Republican) nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.”

HINGHAM — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey told an audience at a town hall-style campaign event Monday night that she has learned President Donald Trump may be planning to sign an executive order that will allow businesses to turn away customers because of the business owners’  religious beliefs.

“I was very distressed to learn while coming here tonight that there may be another order issued, which would be an order that would give businesses and those who do business with the federal government, a First Amendment defense that would allow them to deny providing services to LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people,” Healey said, eliciting groans of disgust from the crowd that filled Derby Academy’s auditorium to hear her speak. “I’m telling you, folks, he talked about this stuff during the campaign, and you saw who he chose to be his vice president.

“There was not a more anti-LGBT, anti-choice governor in the entire United States than Mike Pence; he is now your vice president and this is the executive order that we might see.”


Healey also hinted that if the order is executed, she will fight it in court.

“Obviously, that raises a whole boatload of constitutional issues, so we’ll see what happens next week in court,” she told the crowd, which applauded in response. 

Questioned after the event regarding her comments, Healey told New Boston Post that the order could come within a matter of days.  

“What we’re hearing is that there may be an executive order issued later this week that would give — or purports to give — entities the ability to discriminate against LGBT people based on religious freedom,” Healey noted. “It’s something which is very concerning and could raise constitutional issues.

“Again, it’s just something that we’re hearing but it obviously raises serious concerns.”

Healey did not elaborate further on this issue, but earlier on Monday evening, Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin took to social media to blast out a series of tweets claiming that reliable sources have told him that one of the issues being targeted in the order concerns adoption.   

“Follow up: Admin source says LGBT EO [executive order] could affect federal employee benefits & protections and & adoption agencies that receive federal funding,” Rogin wrote. “More: EO could allow fed employees to refuse to serve LGBT based on belief marriage is b/t man & woman or gender is immutable from birth.”

In 2014, then-President Barack Obama signed an executive order barring “federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

White House Deputy Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told NBC News, however, that such an executive order “isn’t the plan at this time.”

Healey during her talk also insisted that Trump’s November’s presidential election victory does not mean he now has a “mandate.”

“I don’t believe for a minute that the results of this election are a reflection of America and a majority of Americans actually believing that we should reverse Roe versus Wade, or deny climate change, or provide massive tax breaks to the top 1 percent — I just refuse to believe that the majority of Americans want that to be our path forward as a country,” Healey told the audience. “Now Donald Trump and some of his cabinet picks may want to take us in that direction, but I don’t believe that that’s the direction that a majority of Americans truly want to go.

“We’re going to remind him of that — he does not have a mandate, for any of what he’s promised and continues to talk about.”

The topic of a rumored religious freedom-related executive order was just one of many Healey touched on during the event, which ran nearly two hours. Monday’s town hall was her fifth since launching the statewide tour in December. 

Healey also confirmed that she has directed Massachusetts to join a federal lawsuit filed by two Iranian UMass-Dartmouth professors detained Saturday as a result of Trump’s executive order calling for a 90-day travel ban to be imposed on seven Muslim-dominated countries in the Middle East and in Africa.

The professors were questioned and detained by immigration and customs officials despite having Green Cards. A U.S. District Court judge in Boston on Sunday morning issued a seven-day restraining order temporarily halting the federal government from detaining people who arrive here who are from those countries.

Healey called Trump’s order unconstitutional. She noted that she was flying back to Boston from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as the order was taking effect.

“He also did something that resulted in hundreds of thousands of people rushing to the airports, airports around this country that are already on high alert,” Healey added. “I thought about how irresponsible that was and what that said about his ability to discern impact.”

Healey later said Trump “is going to create a constitutional crisis.”

“He already has,” one man in the crowd shouted back.

Healey will next visit Malden in March.