Jeff Sessions resigns as Donald Trump’s Attorney General
Jeff Sessions has resigned as Attorney General after years of attacks on the rights of LGBT people.
The conservative Alabama politician confirmed his resignation in a letter to President Donald Trump which read: “At your request, I am submitting my resignation,” according to The Guardian.
On Twitter, Trump wrote that Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker would take over the role on a temporary basis—rather than deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein—and added: “He will serve our Country well.
“We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date.”
Sessions’ departure, one day after the Democrats reclaimed control of the House of Representatives in Wednesday’s (November 6) midterm elections, could make special counsel Robert Mueller’s position more precarious, as the head of the Russia investigation can only be fired by an attorney general.
Sessions recused himself from overseeing the investigation, but there is no guarantee that Whitaker or a different attorney general would do so.
Jeff Sessions’ anti-LGBT campaigns
Queer activists have long fought against Sessions, one of the leading anti-LGBT figures within the Trump administration.
Sessions, who tried to ban gay and lesbian groups from meeting at Alabama University in 1996 when he was the state’s Attorney General, has played a crucial role in ongoing attempts by the White House to undermine federal protections for LGBT+ people.
He has done so under the guise of providing religious people with the ‘freedom to discriminate,’ issuing a directive last month which protected “the right to perform or abstain from performing certain physical acts in accordance with one’s beliefs.”
This granted citizens a license to discriminate against LGBT+ people based on religion.
Under his leadership, the Justice Department has also rolled back civil rights protections for transgender people, and made an uninvited intervention into a discrimination case this year to argue against discrimination protections for gay employees.
Sessions defended his actions in July at a Religious Liberty Summit hosted by the Justice Department and attended by anti-LGBT activists from evangelical lobbying groups which push extreme messages.
In his speech, the 71-year-old said: “Let’s be frank. A dangerous movement undetected by many is challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom.
“There can be no doubt, it’s no little matter, it must be confronted intellectually and politically and be defeated.
“A dangerous movement is challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom.”
“This past election gives us a rare opportunity to arrest these trends and to confront them.”
It was revealed last month that Sessions took these actions after extensive consultation with Alliance Defending Freedom, a listed anti-LGBT hate group which has lobbied to undermine queer rights across the US.
The Southern Poverty Law Center classes the ADF as an anti-LGBT hate group due to its repeated deployment of homophobic propaganda and anti-LGBT work.
The ADF has framed much of its work in the US around a religious objection to same-sex marriage, but its lobbying work shows a much wider support for licensing anti-LGBT discrimination.
The group has sued a school district over a transgender non-discrimination policy and defended a T-shirt printer who refused an order from a Pride celebration.
It has also battled adoption rights, fought against LGBT people serving openly in the U.S. military, and involved itself in litigation that would continue to criminalise sex between consenting gay or lesbian adults around the world.
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