Tomorrow is President Donald J. Trump’s 100th day in office. Although he campaigned on his 100-day “Contract with the American Voter,” he no longer seems enthusiastic about the milestone. Perhaps that’s because he is facing criticism for failing to achieve any major legislative victories. One thing he has accomplished: He has caused real harm to religious freedom and has made promises to do even more.
Aimee Stephens worked for six years at a Detroit funeral home. Then, she came out as transgender and announced that she would begin to live publicly as a woman, which would include dressing consistent with her gender identity.
Two weeks later, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes fired her. Why? The funeral-home owner said Aimee’s behavior contradicted his religious beliefs.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State was joined by 76 faith leaders and 13 religious and civil-rights organizations in urging a federal appeals court to rule that a Michigan funeral home had violated a transgender employee’s civil rights when it fired her for wearing women’s clothing in accordance with her gender identity.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993 was intended to protect the fundamental American value of religious freedom.
In the more than two decades since RFRA’s passage, however, the law has too frequently been misused and misinterpreted as a sword to harm others, rather than as a shield to protect religious liberty. In particular, some ne’er-do-wells have tried to manipulate RFRA into a tool that allows them ignore non-discrimination laws.