In a new letter, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) supports the right to discriminate against those in same-sex marriages.
Yesterday, the DOJ filed a Statement of Interest in an ongoing dispute between a guidance counselor and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The suit, brought by Joshua Payne-Elliott, alleges that the archdiocese ordered Cathedral High School to fire him for being married to his husband Layton Payne-Elliott. This, according to Joshua, “illegally interfered with his contractual and employment relationship.”
The United States has a "substantial interest in religious liberty," the DOJ says in its statement. The statement goes on to say the country is “strongly invested in ensuring that its citizens’ religious freedoms are not impinged and, to that end, regularly files 4 statements of interest and amicus briefs in courts at every level, from trial courts to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
While these attacks on the LGBTQ+ community comes as no surprise given this administration’s documented history of making similar moves, it's unclear what the DOJ's statement means for Payne-Elliott's suit, if anything. According to the Huffington Post, his lawyer, Kathleen DeLaney finds it “highly unusual" for the Justice Department to insert itself into a local employment issue.
"What I take away from this is that the Trump administration is politicizing a legal dispute about an Indiana business tort." DeLaney said.
Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, tweeted that the DOJ is using statements of interest to “aggressively promote an anti-civil rights agenda.”
“These are cases in which the United States is not a party. The DOJ is using Statements of Interest to aggressively promote an anti-civil rights agenda. It's shameful,” they wrote.
Since many U.S. Catholic schools are, in part, tax-payer funded, this statement essentially says that using government funds to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people is fine under this administration.