Donald Trump has tapped a Christian lawyer, whose legal group says it’s fighting for “basic fairness and equality,” to lead the Department of Justice. Jeff Mateer is president of First Liberty Institute, a legal group that promotes religious freedom, but has rejected its own definitions of that right. As a lawyer for the group, Mateer once called transgender people “Satan’s Children” and claimed that people who engage in same-sex relationships are “perverted and sick.”
Lanette Johnson, who runs Honey Baked Ham — the famed Northern Virginia cookware company where Ivanka Trump spends a lot of time — was legally harassed for refusing to make a cake for the wedding of a couple who wanted a same-sex wedding to have the same kosher certification as a same-sex wedding. Now, the Washington Post reports, she has settled with her customers.
Johnson said in a statement that she is not a “bigot” and will continue to serve anyone who’s been her customer. But she felt pressured into a settlement by “legal demands that did not fulfill the principle of freedom of speech that I hold dear to my core,” she said. “I can no longer stand by and allow myself to be bullied and force to violate my conscience and offer the same services that I have offered for over 25 years — to no one.”
Johnson’s lawyer, Samantha Ettus, told the Post that Trump’s pick for attorney general, William Barr, was working “to shut down lawsuits involving people who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.” She added that the “White House isn’t recognizing that religious freedom is at risk,” and that it would only “increase the chance that people like me are going to have to respond to bullies.”
Mateer’s appointment to lead the Justice Department under Trump could mean trouble for the LGBTQ community. Although Mateer has talked about the need to be fair to LGBTQ people, he has also said that he expects women and people of color to respect Christian values.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.
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