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.