January 31, 2017 at 8:01 am EST | by Chris Johnson
Trump to preserve Obama order barring anti-LGBT discrimination
gaslighting, gay news, Washington Blade

President Trump has pledged to keep in place an executive order barring anti-LGBT discrimination. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Amid questions and media speculation he would roll back LGBT protections, President Trump has pledged to keep in place a 2014 executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people in the workplace.

First reported by The New York Times, the White House announced that Trump would keep the Obama order in place in a statement made public Tuesday morning.

“President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community,” the statement says. “President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election. The president is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression. The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.”

The statement references Trump’s speech accepting the GOP presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention, when he declared he’d “protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful, foreign ideology.” The White House statement appears to go even further than Trump’s speech by saying the president wants more generally to “protect the community from violence and oppression.”

The White House policy comes after the Human Rights Campaign issued a statement Monday citing rumors that an executive order was in the works that would rescind LGBT rights. The Washington Post reported late Monday text of an executive order was circulating through Washington that would undo former President Barack Obama’s executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people, which covers an estimated 34 million workers, many thousands who are LGBT, and 22 percent of the workforce.

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had no comment in response to a question from the Washington Blade about whether Trump was preparing an executive order that would rescind LGBT rights.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, was unimpressed in a statement responding to Trump’s pledge to keep the executive order in place and said questions remain about anti-LGBT actions Trump may take as president.

“Claiming ally status for not overturning the progress of your predecessor is a rather low bar,” Griffin said. “LGBTQ refugees, immigrants, Muslims and women are scared today, and with good reason. Donald Trump has done nothing but undermine equality since he set foot in the White House. Donald Trump has left the key question unanswered — will he commit to opposing any executive actions that allow government employees, taxpayer-funded organizations or even companies to discriminate?”

As the Human Rights Campaign noted, Trump took anti-LGBT positions over the course of his presidential campaign, such as saying he was “with the state” on North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2; supporting the First Amendment Defense Act, a “religious freedom” bill that would enable anti-LGBT discrimination; and pledging to appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court justices in the mold of the anti-gay late U.S. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

“If he’s truly an ally, then why did he choose as his vice president a person who passed one of the most anti-LGBTQ laws in the nation, or an attorney general nominee who says the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling was an ‘effort to secularize, by force and intimidation?’” Griffin said. “Donald Trump talks a big game on his support for LGBTQ people, yet he has filled his cabinet with people who have literally spent their careers working to demonize us and limit our rights. You can’t claim to be an ally when you send LGBTQ refugees back to countries where their lives are at risk. You can’t claim support and then rip away life-saving services made possible through the Affordable Care Act for transgender people and those living with HIV or AIDS. You can’t be a friend to this community and appoint people to run the government who compare being gay to bestiality.”

Still, Trump was regarded as the most pro-LGBT Republican presidential nominee history and claimed he was a better friend to LGBT people than Hillary Clinton. Although Trump campaigned in opposition to same-sex marriage, he said after his election on “60 Minutes” he’s “fine” with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality and considers the issue “settled.”

Log Cabin Republicans, the LGBT group that now seems to have the greatest access to Trump after he won the White House, had declared preserving the executive order was its No. 1 goal. Log Cabin submitted a white paper to the Trump transition team and a petition signed by 800 people urging him to keep Obama’s executive order in place.

Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, said Trump’s pledge to keep the LGBT order makes good on his campaign pledge to be a friend to LGBT people.

“Donald Trump campaigned promising to be a ‘real friend’ to the LGBT community, and now President Trump is delivering on that commitment,” Angelo said. “Log Cabin Republicans is proud to have directly lobbied for this important preservation of LGBT equality in the federal workforce, and heartened to see that the recommendations prescribed in our white paper on this subject have been reflected in the decision to maintain the LGBT non-discrimination executive order.”

It remains to be seen whether Trump’s promise to keep Obama’s executive order in place will rile social conservatives, who helped propel Trump to victory.

Last year, Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) inserted an amendment in the 2017 defense authorization bill that would have undermined Obama’s 2014 executive order, the Republican-controlled Congress omitted that language from the final version of the legislation.

Russell expressed displeasure in a statement to the Blade about the Trump decision, saying it would harm religious-affiliated organizations.

“I cannot understand why the President would prevent people of faith to continue to contract with the military,” Russell said.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • The response from Chad Griffin just confirms his status as a hack for the Democratic Party who is more interested in pleasing his “progressive” allies than building and sustaining a coalition for equality across the political spectrum. After trashing Trump relentlessly and predicting he would void the exec. order from Obama, he owes the president and his supporters an apology, but he doesn’t have the courage or the character to do it.

    • Don’t hold your breath for an apology! I don’t know how you are anyone to call another a political hack when you won’t even acknowledge that Obama did more for the GLBT community than any other President in US History including Trump!
      Obama put his 2nd term on the line by coming out in favor of Marriage Equality before the votes were cast. He should great courage and integrity! Would Trump do the same?
      That said, I always said during the Obama administration that Executive Orders were band-AIDS not anything permanent. What we need is an Equality Act passed by Congress and signed into law. Will Trump Support that and champion it like Obama did Marriage Equality?
      Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, is calling upon Trump to issue an Executive Order protecting religious liberty. One that he says will allow people of faith to speak up for marriage as one man and one woman! So if Trump grants that, how will these opposing executive orders square off?
      While Trump has not ever said he’d support an Equality Act he has told religious conservative that he will support religious liberty laws and a FADA. Such legislation if made law would give social conservatives an excuse to nullify all laws and ordinances that protect GLBT rights!
      So call me another hack or as you said a gay clone while denying your own blind devotion to the GOP with GLBT rights a footnote!

      • Yes, I’m married to a man, but who I thank for that is the Supreme Court, specifically Anthony Kennedy, for its decision. Obama had nothing to do with it. Put his presidency on the line? Public opinion was already on the side of SSM, so it took little political courage for him to come out for it, and he was forced to do so by Joe Biden coming out in favor of it first, forcing his hand. He also had no hand in overturning DOMA, and he expended no political capital in helping to repea DADT. Yes, he used his bully pulpit when convenient, but that’s it. Never even got ENDA passed when he had a Dem. Senate and Congress for two whole years. So it’s ironic you talk about the Equality Act. No, I don’t support it, and neither does Cato. I did support ENDA, for which Obama did zero. If Trump supported the religious liberty laws Tony Perkins wants, he would not have renewed the exec. order he just did. Religious liberty laws are fine fs restricted solely to private individuals and groups. Government and government employees should never be covered by such laws. I have a blind devotion to liberty, not the GOP. I’ve voted Democrat a number of times in Virginia for both governor and Senator. One thing is clear: the strategy of HRC and other gay groups to not engage the GOP and to openly attack it head on, which they’ve been doing for decades, is a complete failure and the opposite of a strategy actually designed to engage both parties and create support across the political spectrum, especially important given the now total control of the federal government, 31 governorships, and the great majority of state legislatures by Republicans. Way to go, HRC.

        • It’s obvious you’re not building a broad spectrum across the political spectrum inclusive of progressives. You still refuse to acknowledge or show any gratitude or success for President Obama’s support for GLBT so why should you expect any for Trump for simply extending a policy that was put in place by a Progressive? We didn’t have such an Executive Order during the Bush administration.

          Obama refused to enforce DOMA before the court even heard the case and appointed Eric Holder AG who shared his view that it was unconstitutional. Meanwhile the GOP Congress continued to push for enforcement through the SCOTUS. But of course the actions and the support of POTUS have no impact on public opinion on such issues paving the way to strike it down.

          Under Obama and Pelosi/Reid control, we not only finally put and end to DADT but also got a Hate Crimes Act signed into law. Significant for the LGBT community given how much time and effort we spent to achieve them. We never did so well in Congress before. Most of our rights have been achieved through the SCOTUS and through Anthony Kennedy which is why SCOTUS choices are so important. What similar achievements for LGBT can you say were achieved when the GOP controlled everything?

          Obama couldn’t achieve passage of ENDA for three reasons you expediently leave out::
          (1) The first time when Pelosi/Reid controlled the Senate, LGBT activists didn’t want it to be voted upon because it did not include Transgender people. Pelosi didn’t think it could pass including them and said that getting a defeat on ENDA on record was not worth a vote on it.
          (2) The 2nd time it was introduced and passed by the Senate, LGBT activists again derailed it because they felt it provided for too many religious exemptions.
          (3) Third, John Boehner refused to allow ENDA to have a hearing in the House or a fair up and down vote despite calls on him to do so. Didn’t matter what Public Opinion thought about it.

          Obama wasn’t going to push for ENDA when LGBT activists weren’t pushing for the version in Congress! Why would he?

          It strikes me a strange that you could support ENDA and an executive order but not an Equality Act. Care to elaborate?

          Trump loves to emphasize that he keeps his promises. He promised that he would support religious liberty laws and FADA. So despite him deciding to continue to enforce an executive order banning LGBT discrimination, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be modified or watered down to provide for a religious liberty exemption.

          To think that the FRC won’t demand as much and expect Trump to deliver is only fooling yourself. You’re old enough to know better how religious conservatives operate.

          Despite a hostile attitude toward the GOP over the decades, we’ve managed to include HIV protections under the ADA, strike down Sodomy laws, integrate the US military, pass hate crimes legislation, defeat laws that would single us out under Romer V. Evans and achieve Marriage Equality. Gee our strategy sure has been hurting us hasn’t it?

          The fact of the Matter is that GLBT sometimes are their own worst enemies with all or nothing strategies that have kept us from passing ENDA. Not our political proclivities.

          • “Despite a hostile attitude toward the GOP over the decades, we’ve
            managed to include HIV protections under the ADA, strike down Sodomy
            laws, integrate the US military, pass hate crimes legislation, defeat
            laws that would single us out under Romer V. Evans and achieve Marriage
            Equality. Gee our strategy sure has been hurting us hasn’t it?” Ok a quick history lesson: The Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws, overturned Romer, and gave us SSM, not Democrats. DADT was given to us by a Democrat and was finally oveturned when Sens. Lieberman and Collins persuaded 8 Republican Senators to support repeal while Harry Reid and Obama were AWOL on the repeal bill. The hate crimes bill has had virtually no effect on the already tiny number of so called hate crimes under federal law. So the strategy of working with only one party and demonizing the other in almost all cases has been a failure. Given the overwhelming Republican control of governorships and state legislatures, not to mention control of Congress and the presidency, we have partisan haters like you to partly thank for the lack of engagement on these issues by so many Republicans. And apparently the only strategy Gay Inc. has is to double down on their hate. Nice job.

          • You think you’re pretty cute pointing out that the SCOTUS struck down sodomy laws or gave us Marriage Equality but neglect the fact that gay activists put forth the cases that resulted in those rulings in the first place. NOT Conservatives!

            DADT was vociferous defended and repeal opposed by John McCain! Democrats introduced the motion for repeal. It wouldn’t have happened under Republicans!

            Further, it was the GOP Congress who spent effort and resources to go to court over Obama and Eric Holder refusing to enforce DOMA!

            “Given the overwhelming Republican control of governorships and state legislatures, not to mention control of Congress and the presidency, we have partisan haters like you to partly thank for the lack of engagement on these issues by so many Republicans.’
            You sound like a broken record with that line. Get off your high horse before you take a fall from it and land hard on your back! Congress and the Presidency was under GOP control under Bush/Cheney and his advisors kept saying that Bush couldn’t endorse or approve ENDA because it was unconstitutional! So much for your influence!
            People like me are not to blame for your failures in achieving GLBT progress under the GOP. The GOP has enough hate for GLBT to see to that. John Boehner wouldn’t allow ENDA a fair up and down vote and Paul Ryan and McConnell won’t allow a vote either even if you could get a Republican to sponsor it. Religious conservatives who have considerable influence the GOP will see to that!
            It won’t be Democrats that introduce legislation for a religious freedom act in Congress or FADA! It will be a Republicans! When they do, let’s see if you crawl back into your hole again.
            Besides Gay, Inc.. wants an Equality Act and you don’t support one so you are just part of the problem not a solution! What pro-GLBT are you actively supporting? Admit that GLBT issues are low on your agenda and your more concerned about pushing your conservative agenda over anything else!
            Further, Trump has NEVER said he would support ENDA or an Equality Act but he has said he will Support Religious freedom laws and FADA and is now trying to repeal the Johnson Act.

  • But how will his EEOC & Justice Department handle the Title VII EEOC complaints?

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