Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked the public to let them know if they should make it easier to discriminate in the name of religion. The request for comment was the latest in the Trump Administration’s ongoing efforts to promote its anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, anti-women agenda under the guise of religion. So when HHS asked for input, thousands of activists and organizations stepped up to respond with a resounding NO. But since then, HHS has made pretty clear that they aren’t listening.
More than 10,000 comments were submitted when HHS asked for input. And when people submit comments, the Administration is supposed to read each of them and make them available online for everyone else to read as well. It’s part of the whole “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” deal. So more than three weeks after the more than 10,000 comments were submitted, how many have been posted for the public to see? Eighty.
By this point, it should come as no surprise that the 80 comments handpicked from more than 10,000 overwhelmingly support the Administration’s attempts to give employers, universities, and other powerful institutions a license to discriminate. In fact, 71 of the 80 comments strongly support the Administration, while comments from people and groups, like ours, opposed to discrimination have been kept hidden.
We will not be silenced. The Administration must post all of the comments in response to the request for information because all of our voices deserve to be heard. In the meantime, I’ll find as many ways to say it as I possibly can.
The Administration needs to get its priorities straight. Rather than being concerned about whether faith-based organizations are being discriminated against, it should be concerned about addressing the real discrimination that women, LGBTQ people, and people of color face every day.