Although it is a dry topic, the federal Rulemaking Process (and its state counterparts) is extremely important to every American. Why? Because when Congress passes a law that creates an agency, that organization becomes empowered to control a broad range of non-specific issues that fall under its jurisdiction. The agency can create a rule or policy that is highly impactful on citizens without passing a law. Because most agencies fall under the Executive Branch, they receive new leadership and mandates from the current administration. One of the “checks & balances” against the process from going too far one direction or another is that an agency must post any proposed changes to rules for public comment -- at a minimum for 30 days, but the standard comment period is 60 days. Theoretically, the agency reviews all of the public comments and makes adjustments to the proposed rule if there are trend problems identified by the feedback received.
This background information is important to understand the current situation. On January 17, 2020, eight federal agencies posted proposed rules* which allow for “faith-based” organizations to legally discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals (or any individual(s) it believes to be immoral) and still receive federal funding. The proposed rules are posted for public comment for only 30 days--the minimum amount of time required. Thankfully, the National Women’s Law Center took the laboring oar to send a letter to these agencies, pointing out how the proposed rules are significant and should be given--at a minimum--the standard 60 day comment period. NEAT is thrilled to sign on to this letter and support the request, given the huge impact these rules will have on LGBTQ+ people.
These actions are being taken to implement President Trump’s Executive Order 13831, which is another attempt by this administration to cover up its hateful bigotry against our community under a thin veneer of religious freedom. We have seen this theory in action elsewhere--like the infamous Masterpiece Cakeshop Case in Colorado--and it has gained traction in various toeholds across the country. The current proposed rules are insidious in a slightly different way in that they will direct your tax dollars to support organizations who do not recognize you as a full citizen.
Here’s an easy direct-action opportunity for you and your social circles: whether or not the comment period gets extended, YOU can provide your feedback on these proposed changes directly to the agencies at this website or the links below: https://www.regulations.gov/ This is a civic duty beyond voting and the more people who engage in the process, the better off the United States will be now and in the future.
Sadly, there is ample evidence that the current administration is largely ignoring public comments and moving forward with its outcome-based rule changes. In one example, in an immigration reform case before the Supreme Court, medical scholars noted that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security largely ignored the majority of over 266,000 public comments. However, it is still important for comments to be recorded--as an individual voice and on behalf of similar people who do not respond. Even if the administration ignores them, it is helpful during a court’s review of a proposed rule if a lawsuit is initiated, or for revisions in the future by new administrations.
- Equal Participation of Faith-Based Organizations in DHS’s Programs and Activities: Implementation of Executive Order 13831
- Equal Opportunity for Religious Organizations in U.S. Department of Agriculture Programs: Implementation Of Executive Order 13831
- AQ75-Joint Proposed Rule-Equal Participation of Faith-Based Organizations in Veterans Affairs Programs: Implementation of Executive Order 13831
- Equal Participation of Faith-Based Organizations in USAID's Programs and Activities: Implementation of Executive Order 13831
- Equal Participation of Faith-Based Organizations in the Department of Labor's Programs and Activities: Implementation of Executive Order 13831
- Equal Participation of Faith-Based Organizations in Department of Justice's Programs and Activities: Implementation of Executive Order 13831
- Ensuring Equal Treatment of Faith-Based Organizations
- Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, Direct Grant Programs, State-Administered Formula Grant Programs, Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program, and Strengthening Institutions Program