MassEquality Responds to Trump Executive Order on Religious Exemptions

May 4, 2017

Contact: Deborah Shields, JD, MPH
Executive Director
Twitter: @massequality



BOSTON – May 4, 2017 – Today, President Trump signed an executive order titled “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty”that weakens the wall between church and state and allows employers to use religious belief as a reason to deny preventive health care coverage to their employees. In response to this development, MassEquality’s Executive Director, Deborah Shields, JD, MPH, released the following statement:

“Today’s executive order has far-reaching consequences, and represents a major erosion of the separation of Church and State. Religious freedom is already enshrined in the First Amendment of our Constitution, and numerous laws exist to protect religious rights. Although it does not specifically mention LGBTQ people, our community is directly impacted by this order.

“The new executive order allows religious organizations to engage in political activities such as endorsing candidates or condemning legislation without risking their tax-exempt status. In Massachusetts, this could lead to conservative clergy preaching from the pulpit to defeat LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, immigrant rights or any anti-discrimination legislation or ballot issues.

“It also exempts private employers from offering their employees many forms of reproductive health care mandated by the Affordable Care Act based on religious beliefs. This could lead to the loss of insurance coverage for common types of preventive care such as contraception, vaccines against HPV and other STDs, and possibly for family-building technologies such as assisted reproduction. It could also open the door to denying coverage for PrEP and other HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment medications, and even lead to LGBTQ people being refused medical treatment or access to preventive care such as cancer screenings and mammograms.

“As the full impact of the executive order is felt in the days and weeks to come, know that MassEquality has your back, and that we will do everything in our power to protect the rights of our community members. We stand with you, and in firm opposition to any executive order or law that would deny LGBTQ people their equality, dignity, rights and respect.”



MassEquality is the leading statewide grassroots advocacy organization working to ensure that everyone across Massachusetts can thrive from cradle to grave without discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.