People for the American Way has filed suit against the Department of Justice and Department of Housing and Urban Development to demand the release of documents relating to changes in policy regarding LGBT people.
Last year PFAW's Right Wing Watch project filed requests with both agencies under the Freedom of Information Act seeking documents on reported removal of mentions of LGBT people from their programs. But neither department has released the documents, leading to the lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In August, Right Wing Watch asked HUD for documents relating to the reduction of efforts to combat homelessness among LGBT people. This came after New York magazine reported that HUD leaders had "ordered the removal of online training materials meant, in part, to help homeless shelters make sure they were providing equal access to transgender people," "pulled back a survey regarding projects in Cincinnati and Houston to reduce LGBT homelessness," and "forced its Policy Development and Research division to dissociate itself from a major study it had funded on housing discrimination against gay, lesbian, and transgender people."
Then in September, Right Wing Watch sought documents relating to the removal of references to LGBT youth from its summary of a program to assist victims of sex trafficking. The New York Times had reported on the removal.
"Although the deadlines for fulfilling these requests have long past, neither agency has produced any responsive documents," PFAW noted in a press release.
"There's absolutely no reason why these agencies should refuse to release these documents," PFAW senior fellow Elliot Mincberg said in the release. "The public has a right to know what directives are being handed down that resulted in LGBTQ people being written out of federal programs and activities. These under-the-radar changes can have a massive effect on the way our government works, and it appears Trump administration officials are trying to create secret agency laws in order to push their extreme agenda. That's simply not permissible. We have a right to see these documents and we're going to court to get them."
Mincberg further told Newsweek, "Our assumption was that this was directed in some way by some political folks." The heads of the departments -- HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department -- are well-known opponents of LGBT rights.
Right Wing Watch also recently filed another Freedom of Information Request, seeking information from the Department of Health and Human Services on removal of LGBT references from its policies.