WASHINGTON — After reports of a leaked draft Monday and subsequent social media outcry, the White House issued a statement today declaring it would not roll back protections put in place for LGBT federal workers by the Obama administration.
In 2014, Obama declared a “year of action” to use executive actions to move forward items stalled in Congress. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed the Senate but didn’t advance in the House run by then-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), whose office said the previous year that he wouldn’t support ENDA because it would “increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small-business jobs.” So Obama implemented ENDA via executive order.
Obama’s order prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Washington Post reported that a draft executive order that would have repealed Obama’s order began circulating this past weekend. The text also included provisions to allow adoption agencies and other groups receiving federal funds but that have a beliefs-based objection to deny services to LGBT people.
Early this morning, White House press secretary Sean Spicer released a statement emphasizing President Trump “is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community.”
“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,” Spicer said. “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 Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights advocacy group, responded with skepticism.
“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?” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “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?’”
“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,” Griffin added. “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.”