WASHINGTON — In a one-two punch elating religious conservatives, President Donald Trump’s administration is allowing more employers to opt out of no-cost birth control for workers and issuing sweeping religious-freedom directions that could override many anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people and others.
At a time when Trump finds himself embattled on many fronts, the two directives — issued almost simultaneously on Friday — demonstrated the president’s eagerness to retain the loyalty of social conservatives who make up a key part of his base. Leaders of that constituency were exultant.
“President Trump is demonstrating his commitment to undoing the anti-faith policies of the previous administration and restoring true religious freedom,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
Liberal advocacy groups, including those supporting LGBTQ and reproductive rights, were outraged.
“The Trump administration is saying to employers, ‘If you want to discriminate, we have your back,'” said Fatima Goss Graves, president of National Women’s Law Center.
Her organization is among several that are planning to challenge the birth-control rollback in court. The American Civil Liberties Union filed such a lawsuit less than three hours after the rules were issued.
“The Trump administration is forcing women to pay for their boss’ religious beliefs,” said ACLU senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri. “We’re filing this lawsuit because the…