Just days before a vote is expected on the Equality Act, a senior administration official confirmed that Donald Trump does not support the legislation that would amend federal law to provide a wide range of protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
"The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights," the administration official wrote to the Washington Blade in an email.
The Equality Act would ban discrimination not only in employment but in housing, credit, public accommodations, education, federal financial assistance, and federal jury service.
The latest version of the Equality Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in March, and conservatives have since come out in hysterical droves in response.
The Equality Act is "the most extreme threat to religious freedom, free speech, privacy and to women's rights that has ever been proposed in Congress," Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, wrote in a recent fundraising email. He called it a "heinous" and "nightmarish" bill that will impose "the radical and unforgiving LGBT agenda on your family, church, school, and business."
While Trump has yet to speak publicly about opposition to the Equality Act, it is expected that the White House will issue a Statement of Administration Policy when the legislation comes to the floor later this week, according to the Blade.
"We're disgusted, but certainly not surprised, by Donald Trump's announcement that he opposes the Equality Act, which is supported by seven in ten Americans and more than two hundred major businesses," Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement. "By opposing this common-sense civil rights legislation, Donald Trump is ensuring that LGBTQ people remain at risk of being fired or denied housing in a majority of states. The LGBTQ community, and all Americans for that matter, deserve a president with the courage and decency to sign this bill into law, and we will continue the urgent work to pass the Equality Act and replace Donald Trump with a pro-equality president who will sign it into law."
Opposing protections for LGBTQ people is in line with the Trump administration's past actions. His administration has rolled back protections for trans students, implemented a ban on trans people in the military, and issued an order allowing religiously affiliated health care providers to discriminate against LGBTQ patients, among other discriminatory acts. Trump has also come out about being OK with businesses discriminating against LGBTQ people.
However, in 2000, when he was considering a run for president on the Reform Party ticket, he told The Advocate he supported amending federal civil rights law to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. The issue of gender identity did not come up.
The Advocate reached out to the White House for comment but is awaiting a response.