This is a big deal. But we’re not out of the woods yet — Trump may still sign a “religious freedom” executive order that undoes a lot of what the Obama executive order accomplished.
A lot of us fought a long time for that executive order, as it basically implements ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) for federal contractors. Or, put another way, it forces federal contractors to adopt non-discrimination policies for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.
Most people don’t realize that employment discrimination against LGBT people is legal under federal law, though it is banned in many cities and states under local law.
So this is great news, actually, and it came about because of public pressure. But it’s not enough. We were concerned about this executive order, but we were also concerned about a series of other moves Trump was potentially planning, in the name of so-called “religious freedom.”
We’ve had no indication that Trump is backing off of those, and in fact, by keeping the Obama executive order on federal contractors, Team Trump may think it gives them cover to bash gay and trans people in a separate “religious freedom” executive order meant to curry favor with the religious right.
Here’s the rest of what has been rumored, and what the White House has yet to deny:
– Letting organizations use federal dollars to discriminate in the provision of social services;
– Letting federally-funded adoption agencies discrimination against LGBT people; and
– Permit federal employees to discriminate against LGBT people based on their opposition to marriage quality and gender identity.
In a nutshell, the religious right has been claiming for years that it’s religious discrimination for the law to require them to provide goods and services to gay or trans people. And they’ve been trying to get laws passed in the states, to codify anti-LGBT discrimination. For example, if a woman walks into a pharmacy and asks a pharmacist for birth control pills, or a gay man asks a pharmacist for a condom, the religious right — and Vice President Mike Pence — want to make it so that the pharmacist can refuse to help you, lest it offend his religious sensibilities.
But it gets worse than that. As we’ve already seen, these “religious freedom” protections would also permit state officials to refuse to marry gay couples, even though marriage equality is now the law of the land. It could even permit EMTs to refuse to help LGBT people in need. (In Washington, DC years ago, a young trans woman was left to die on Dupont Circle when the EMTs refused to help her.)
There’s also the issue of permitting social service agencies, like adoption agencies, to use federal funds to discriminate against gay and trans people (e.g., a “religious” adoption group doesn’t want to let gay or trans couples adopt).
So it remains to be seen whether Trump will sign the religious right executive order, and I think he will. Unless we speak out, unless we make clear that there will be holy hell to pay if the Trump White House slams the door shut on LGBT rights. Such an executive order could undo a lot of the EO Trump is saving. It would permit people nationwide to discriminate against LGBT people, or anyone — blacks, Jews, Muslims, women — so long as “God told them so.”
So sign the petition, share it with your friends, and let’s send a clear message to Donald Trump that we will not go back into the closet, we will not become second-class citizens, and for all you non-LGBT people out there, you will not see your LGBT friends left behind.
Thanks so much everyone, and great work to date on this.
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