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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 3, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 05
LGBT groups skeptical of Trump promise on LGBT rights
Section One
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LGBT groups skeptical of Trump promise on LGBT rights

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

LGBT and human rights groups say they are skeptical of Donald Trump's announced intention to keep federal protections for LGBT workers in place.

Trump said on January 31 that he would keep in place an executive order issued by President Obama that requires companies doing business with the federal government to have anti-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Obama-era order, signed in 2014, protects an estimated 28 million workers - one fifth of the total workforce - in some 24,000 companies, including the country's biggest.

Trump made the announcement after Washington Post reporter Josh Rogin wrote on January 30 that he was considering a possible executive order limiting LGBT adoption rights, workplace benefits, and other protections. Daily Kos reported a similar story later the same day.

While Trump did not deny the reports, he made clear that the Obama directive would remain in force.

'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 White House said.

If Trump expected to be embraced by the LGBT community, he had another think coming. HRC President Chad Griffin said Trump set a low bar by merely continuing protections that already exist.

'LGBTQ refugees, immigrants, Muslims, and women are scared today, and with good reason,' Griffin said in a statement.

'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?'

Griffin added that Trump has filled his cabinet with people who 'have 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,' he said.

'You can't claim support them 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.'

'Actions speak louder than words,' ACLU LGBT Project Director James Esseks said.

'President Trump has surrounded himself with a vice president and cabinet members who have repeatedly sought to sanction discrimination against LGBT people in the name of religion, and nothing in the White House's statement makes clear that these efforts are behind us.

'LGBT immigrants, refugees, Muslims, and women have already come under attack by this administration. If Donald Trump is serious about being an ally to the LGBT community, it starts with abandoning an agenda driven by fear and prejudice.'

National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell said Trump's decision to keep existing protections in place was 'not a step forward.'

'We remain concerned by reports that the president intends to issue an order creating new religious exemptions that will permit discrimination against LGBT people and others,' Kendell warned.

'This is also a distraction from the imminent announcement of a Supreme Court nominee, which is the most important issue for our community. The Senate must reject any nominee who will turn back the clock on our nation's commitment to the equality and freedom of LGBT people, including the fundamental right to marry and to be treated equally to other married couples.'

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