In addition to erasing LGBTQ people from the US census, Trump has revoked an executive order that required federal contractors document their compliance with laws and executive orders, including their compliance with the prohibition on discrimination against LGBT employees. To be clear, the EO that Trump has rescinded isn’t the same one that actually prohibits LGBT discrimination in the workplace at those federal contractors, but without a system of accountability and documentation in place it will be difficult to prove that’s happening at all and thus make the law enforceable. Doing so would depend upon individual employees filing a lawsuit against their employer, an expensive and time-consuming process that isn’t feasible for many.
The issue of discrimination against LGBT employees by federal contractors was actually one that Trump’s team had specifically said they would leave alone, back in January:
“President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community,” the White House said in a statement. “The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact.”
Although the original nondiscrimination EO is still in place, these actions certainly don’t constitute protection of the LGBTQ community; nor are they those of, as the Log Cabin Republicans called him at the time the statement was made, a “real friend.”
So why go back on his word, such as it is, for an EO about internal documentation? Well, there are a few possibilities, none of which may be true or all of them, and we’ll probably never really know. Realistically, it’s totally possible Trump himself doesn’t know why he signed this specific EO. It’s always a coin toss with this administration regarding whether something happened out of intentional malice or just total incompetence. Maybe his tee time got changed and he had to take his frustration out somewhere. More probably, though: it could be that Pence or Ryan want to get more aggressive about rolling back LGBTQ civil rights, and had him do this as a litmus test to see how much outcry there would be. It’s possible that this is part of Bannon’s documented campaign to stop “paper trails” inside the federal government entirely:
“He is running a cabal, almost like a shadow NSC,” the official said. He described a work environment where there is little appetite for dissenting opinions, shockingly no paper trail of what’s being discussed and agreed upon at meetings, and no guidance or encouragement so far from above about how the National Security Council staff should be organized… During the first week of the Trump administration, there were no SOCs [summary of conclusions], the intelligence official said. In fact, according to him, there is surprisingly very little paper being generated, and whatever paper there is, the NSC staff is not privy to it. He sees this as a deterioration of transparency and accountability.
A government whose decisions aren’t even entered into a the record is a government whose decisions are harder to fight; it’s difficult to combat something that can’t even be proven to exist.
It’s also possible that Trump or his team think that this falls under the umbrella of “cutting back regulations,” a GOP rallying cry without any particular substance that has led to developments like Trump’s earlier, shockingly stupid executive order to “scrap two regulations for every new one adopted.”
Regardless of the reason, at least one thing is clear: no matter what he claimed on the campaign trail or in puff piece interviews, and no matter what he had some staffer backstage scrawl onto a flag with Magic Marker, Trump is not and never will be an ally to LGBT people. We already knew this, and we already knew what to do: push back against him and his administration at every turn. Regardless of this move and all the other anti-LGBT developments that are inevitably coming down the pipeline, our mandate to uplift and protect our own community while opposing him resolutely remains the same.