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LGBTQ groups sue over Trump scrapping social service protections on the way out

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NEW YORK — A coalition of service and advocacy groups filed suit against the Trump administration on Tuesday for rolling back religious freedom protections that required faith-based organizations providing taxpayer-funded services to inform recipients of their legal rights to be free from discrimination, not to have to attend religious programming, and to have the opportunity to get a referral for an alternative provider.

Lambda Legal said in a statement that the rule, effective Tuesday, makes it harder for already marginalized populations to access essential social services.

“It’s outrageous and alarming that the Trump administration, on its way out of town and in the midst of a raging pandemic, cannot resist one last shot at key nondiscrimination protections across no less than nine federal agencies that serve people in crisis,” said Jennifer Pizer, Lambda Legal’s law and policy director. “This last gasp effort yet again privileges religion and religious institutions over the needs of LGBTQ people, seniors, youth who are survivors of trafficking, survivors of interpersonal violence, and other vulnerable populations that our publicly funded programs are intended to serve, and who need these services to survive and thrive.”

“This shameful Trump administration rule change will severely impair the ability of these community members to know their rights and obtain sometimes life-saving services. This is the 46th lawsuit we have had to file against the Trump administration to block its obsessive, lawless efforts to create ever-greater free passes for religious entities and to target refugees, communities of color, women, and LGBTQ people.” Pizer added. 

The lawsuit was filed by a group including MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, SAGE, the New York City Anti-Violence Project, Ark of Freedom Alliance, Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Atheists, and the Hindu American Foundation. Filed against the Trump-led Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, Education, Homeland Security, Justice, and Labor, the suit seeks to reverse the unlawful rollback of these important protections. Democracy Forward, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Lambda Legal represent the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit was filed on January 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Read it in full here.

Read the full complaint here:  https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/mazon_ny_20210119_complaint 

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