Trump Says He Won’t Overturn LGBT Protections, But His Administration Will Still Discriminate Against Us

feature image artistic credit goes to Laneia

On Tuesday, the White House announced they would keep Obama’s protections barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for federal workers and contractors. The decision apparently came directly from Trump. He’s super proud that he’s “the first ever G.O.P. nominee to mention the L.G.B.T.Q. community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.” LOL, like he doesn’t perpetuate violence and oppression all day, every day to all marginalized people.

The announcement was made after rumors circulated on Monday that Trump was going to sign an executive order that would allow discrimination against LGBT people on the grounds of religious freedom. Although the White House made it clear they wouldn’t undo Obama’s protections, that doesn’t mean they’re not also going to support religious exemptions, which is the vehicle Republicans — and the Vice President, Mike Pence — have been trying to legalize discrimination against LGBT folks in recent years. In other words, there’s always the chance Trump could add an exemption to Obama’s directive by allowing individuals and businesses to discriminate based on their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” He could also issue a separate executive order, or support anti-LGBT “religious freedom” legislation. This announcement is not a win for LGBT folks but a temporary calm before the storm. Just like everything that Trump has done so far, people’s rights are being upended by every executive action and order he makes — like the ban on refugees and immigrants from Muslim countries, for one — and those communities all include LGBT people, so simply claiming that for right now, he’s not going to go backwards on some protections isn’t commendable. Trump and his administration are still just as dangerous and threatening to LGBT rights as they always have been.

Over the weekend, a draft of a potential executive order circulated in Washington that would overturn Obama’s directive barring discrimination against LGBT federal employees and contractors. The draft included multiple provisions, including exemptions for adoption agencies and other groups receiving federal funds to deny LGBT people services based on their religious beliefs. LGBTQ Nation first reported that an anti-LGBT executive order was in the pipeline according to their sources. They mentioned the orders could also make “taxpayer funds available for discrimination against LGBTQ people in social services”; “allow federal employees to refuse to serve people based on the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman”; and make gender “an immutable characteristic set at birth.” The Washington Post notes The White House hasn’t specifically addressed these possible changes.

At a press conference on Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied Trump was going to sign an executive order on the grounds of “religious freedom” that could undermine LGBT rights. “I’m not going to get ahead of the executive orders that we may or may not issue,” Spicer said. “There’s a lot of executive orders, a lot of things the president has talked about and will continue to fulfill, but we have nothing on that front now.”

While Trump may not personally want to dismantle already set LGBT protections, his colleagues sure do. They’re showing it by reintroducing the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah have both publicly stated they would reintroduce the bill this year. According to NBCNews:

FADA would prohibit the federal government from taking “discriminatory action” against any business or person that discriminates against LGBTQ people. The act distinctly aims to protect the right of all entities to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on two sets of beliefs: “(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”

The bill had a brief moment in 2015 but was quickly shut down by Democrats. Now with a Republican-controlled House and with Trump’s election and his promise to back it up, it’s more than likely to pass this year. Even more disturbing, Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is not only a vocal proponent of the legislation, he’s one of the bill’s original sponsors, which has complicated his confirmation. In addition, Vice President Mike Pence has always been anti-LGBT by supporting conversion therapy and passing a Religious Freedom Restoration Act while governor of Indiana.

Even if Trump doesn’t sign an executive order to destroy LGBT rights this week, conservative politicians are still fighting every day to keep us down, and he’s proven he won’t be an ally to LGBT people or any other marginalized group against them.

Yvonne S. Marquez is a lesbian journalist and former Autostraddle senior editor living in Dallas, TX. She writes about social justice, politics, activism and other things dear to her queer Latina heart. Yvonne was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter. Read more of her work at yvonnesmarquez.com.

Yvonne has written 205 articles for us.

19 Comments

  1. I still don’t get it, if they are trying to protect religious freedoms, and being LGBTQ is frowned upon in some religious communities; then why isn’t being divorced twice and married 3 times not frowned upon. Or the fact he’s had pre-martial sex, admits to coveting other women, gluttony, and so forth. Let’s say this law does that pass, could that mean one could discriminate against the rich(like him and his cronies) for gluttony, or other stuff? Ugh.

    • It seems like they’re just trying to protect certain people’s specific, highly-selective ideas of what matters in religion. We’re taught to welcome the stranger, yet he’s totally fine restricting our ability to welcome the stranger with these orders on immigration and refugees.

      • I get tha. However, can we test that(more so aimed as the right/racists), like say if they are a glutton(re rich republican a-hole), or divorcee, so people can say we can’t serve them if such laws do pass? Kind of like turning it on them, or will that cause too much backlash?

  2. His supreme court justice is another example. He’s a judicial Libertarian, and supports intended original meaning interpretations of law and constitutional amendments. This stems from a judicial precedent from the 80s in Chevron vs. Iforgetthename which allowed government officials to interpret vague laws as they understood them instead of within the “original intent” of the law that was passed.

    One way this can roll back Obama’s use of Title IX to encompass LGBT people under groups protected by anti-sex based discrimination. Under original interpretation he would rule that unconstitutional. He also thinks things like civil rights law shouldn’t apply to businesses that aren’t directly involved with the government.

    This means he’ll likely be anti-ENDA once one passes, and until it does any attempts to provide ENDA like coverage to us he will try to strike down as unconstitutional.

    He’s about 50 years old and will be on the court for 20-30 years. It’s nuts.

  3. You know you guys, this may have occurred to some of you–but, this may be a strategy of divide and rule (we Indians know all about it). Try and give some scraps to some discriminated section of society and make them feel slightly safe so that they fall out of the resistance.

    Not that that can work when so many are working against it. But, I think in the case of civil rights and freedoms, an all or nothing policy–civil rights and protections for all and not just one set of minority or sex or gender and no compromise on anything may be a much better and more long term and stable resistance. Something like what I hear the Women’s March had on their agenda.

    I don’t mean any offense to any of you by this; just decided to share something I have thought about a lot–as in, I have wondered if the current govt. in India were to suddenly decriminalise same-sex sexual acts, whether I’d vote for them; despite the fact that they have been promoting irresponsible and damaging Hindu nationalism (which is both dangerous and against our country’s nature; but what do they care?).

    • I’m not American either and this aspect of these proposals/laws have also occurred to me too.
      It’s one of the reasons that the idea of some kind of “civil war” has been on my mind, although I’m inclined to think that a trade war leading to international conflict is another pending threat.

    • I think you are on to something. It also gives the right something to hold up and go “see, he is pro lgbt, he isn’t doing these horrible things you assumed he was” We have to definitely remember that 1.Regardless of if/when they come after lgbtq people specifically, we still have to fight for all marginalized people they attack, and 2. We are part of every community, and are being affected by all the decisions he has made so far, and will continue to make

  4. also let’s be VERY WARY of attempts to divide or be ok with any of this. I see this “oh I’m not going to attack LGBTQ people” from 45admin as (among other things) an attempt to do this – like, oh he(they) can’t be *that* bad if they’re not dismantling LBGTQ protections. Let’s remember intersectionality, let’s remember none of this is normal. And let’s not fall for it, y’all.

  5. I lived in Indiana when Pence passed the RFA act (religious freedom) and it was super scary to exist in a state where at any point, anywhere, anyone could just refuse you service! It’s like, should I try and look less gay so I can get my slice of pizza or should I try and look even more like a lesbian to say fuck ’em all!

    It was really sweet when the local donut shop sent out a long facebook message reassuring our community that their main priority was serving donut lovers, and donut lovers encompassed everyone as far as they were concerned 🙂

    • I remember back in the nineties, here in Cali, there were like placards or stickers in the windows of some businesses that proclaimed them safe for LGBT folks. Like, because the other places weren’t.

      I DON’T WANT TO GO BACK TO A TIME when I have to look for a placard. Fuck that.

      • My parents live in Colorado Springs, and I spent seventh grade through high school there. This summer when I visited, I saw a rainbow sticker on a restaurant/bar window – the city is home to Focus on the Family, so it’s a place where I would perhaps still hope for something in the window.

  6. From https://www.thenation.com/article/leaked-draft-of-trumps-religious-freedom-order-reveals-sweeping-plans-to-legalize-discrimination/, some highlights of Trump’s anti-LGBT executive order coming soon, under – surprise! – the guise of “religious freedom”:

    ‘The four-page draft order, a copy of which is currently circulating among federal staff and advocacy organizations, construes religious organizations so broadly that it covers “any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations,” and protects “religious freedom” in every walk of life: “when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.”

    The draft order seeks to create wholesale exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious or moral objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, and trans identity, and it seeks to curtail women’s access to contraception and abortion through the Affordable Care Act.’

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