President Donald Trump opposes adding the LGBTQ community to the list of groups protected by the Civil Rights Act. We wish we could say we were surprised.
I’m making a rule: sarcasm is permissible in news headlines if I’m fed up enough. And like a lot of you out there, I am fed up.
President Donald Trump, who took office back at the beginning of 2017 despite the state of Virginia’s best efforts (continued condolences to all of us), campaigned on a pro-LGBTQ platform. Remember that? “Thank you to the LGBT community!” and all that rot?
Well, if we didn’t know it was bullshit then (and more fool us if we didn’t), we sure found out once he took office and his administration immediately began making moves like gutting Civil Rights Act protections that had been interpreted by the previous administration to apply on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — most notably in the case of transgender children who went to school one morning and found out the US Department of Education didn’t have their back anymore.
And then there was the ban on transgender people in the military. Don’t even get me started on that one. Let me merely say we are still fighting that battle, and move on.
Now, to top it all off, word has come via the Washington Blade from sources within the administration who’ve made it clear that Donald Trump hates the Equality Act.
The Equality Act, which is scheduled for a floor vote in the House of Representatives on Friday, amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to remove all the gray areas around discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity. Previous attempts to cover such discrimination under the Civil Rights Act have revolved around a legal interpretation of the word “sex” — which ultimately depends on what the administration in power want it to mean.
The Equality Act would amend not only the Civil Rights Act but the Fair Housing Act to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in a wide variety of situations, including employment, housing, education, public accomodations, and more.
In an email, a senior Trump administration official (we don’t know which one) told the Blade, “The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”
The “poison pills” the official seems to be referring to would be nothing more than a simple requirement that people couldn’t fire a gay or trans person for being who they are, couldn’t refuse to rent to them or, most critically, to give them medical treatment, due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Such prohibitions are currently in place for racial minorities, ethnic minorities, women, and religious groups of all kinds, among others.
The Washington Blade points out that Trump made statements when he campaigned for the Reform Party’s nomination for president in 2000 that supported adding sexual orientation to the Civil Rights Act. However, that was nearly two decades ago by now, and over his past two and a half years as the actual president, he’s been largely supportive of anti-LGBTQ causes that have cloaked their discrimination in the rhetoric of “religious freedom.”
And of course, the public debate around the trans military ban has made it eminently clear where he stands on the subject of transgender and non-binary people.
So really, this news is not a surprise. It’s just another in a long line of consistent anti-LGBTQ policy from the Trump White House, which will presumably continue until such a time as we vote him out. But it has the possibility of really disrupting potential legal gains for the LGBTQ community — assuming the Equality Act could pass both houses of Congress (which, of course, is by no means guaranteed), it would face an almost-certain veto at the presidential level. At which point all of the legally-justified discrimination we’ve faced since January 2017 would be free to continue as it has for the past two years.
Looks like this administration isn’t going to take its boot off our necks anytime soon, y’all.
Photo via Donald Trump/Twitter