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Trump Covertly Dismantles Obama-Era LGBT Protections


Trump just made it easier for federal contractors to discriminate about LGBT people.


President Trump has flip-flopped once again on his promise to protect LGBT workers who work for federal contractors from workplace discrimination.

Trump signed an order on Monday revoking protections signed into law by President Obama in 2014. Obama signed an executive order banning LGBT discrimination among federal contractors; he concurrently signed an order requiring contracted businesses prove they're complying with federal laws and executive orders. President Trump rescinded the latter order, making it much more difficult to know whether a business has committed to ending LGBT bias in hiring, firing, and promotions.

Lambda Legal condemned Trump's actions, saying, "This administration has made it extremely difficult to enforce these federal laws as applied to federal contractors." "It's sending a message to these companies," said Camilla Taylor, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, "...that the federal government simply doesn't care whether or not they violate the law."

Selisse Berry, CEO & Founder of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, issued the following statement about the news:

"This executive order is out of step with American values of equality and inclusion, and out of sync with the direction most American businesses are taking. We hope the President will look to the example of business leaders and understand that our country is stronger when we include everyone. One of the great untold success stories of the last twenty years is how businesses have led the way for LGBT equality even as federal legislation lagged. Today, an astounding 92 percent of Fortune 500 companies embrace LGB employees through non-discrimination policies and 82 percent include gender identity."

Obama added the words "sexual orientation, gender identity" to the list of characteristics on which contractors may not discriminate, including sex and national origin, in executive orders 11246 -- which prohibits discrimination by federal contractors -- and executive order 11478, which prohibits discrimination by the federal government in its employment of civilians. Anti-LGBT discrimination against federal workers and federal contractors remains illegal for now, but Trump has made it much more difficult to enforce such bans.

Trump had campaigned on overturning both of the executive orders Obama signed, but in January he assured the American people that he would not undo the orders. The New York Times reported at the time that Trump himself had made the decision not to overturn the orders.

The White House issued a statement to the Times in January about the issue. "President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election," read the statement. "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."

Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, and Ivanka Trump, his daughter, were largely credited with influencing the president not to pull the orders. Cut LGBT activists and groups insisted the duo didn't deserve credit for being credited as "LGBT allies" when they stood by as Trump signed the "Muslim ban" into effect because that order also affects LGBT people in countries where it's unsafe to be out.

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Yezmin Villarreal

Yezmin Villarreal is the former news editor for The Advocate. Her work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mic, LA Weekly, Out Magazine and The Fader.
Yezmin Villarreal is the former news editor for The Advocate. Her work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mic, LA Weekly, Out Magazine and The Fader.