It’s not a newsflash that Republicans oppose equal and civil rights for all Americans and it is particularly true when they can sate the hate of the religious right. Although there are equal and civil right protections enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, President Barack Obama had to implement “special” protections in 2014 for LGBT employees of federal contractors, and he had to use an executive order because the religious Republicans in Congress failed to act. On Monday, Trump “rescinded” that order, the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order (Executive Order 13673) and it wasn’t to save the government money, create jobs or make America great; it was to give religious employers legal grounds to discriminate against “the gays.”
The Executive Order 13673 was already blocked from being implemented by a religious right judge in Texas because it required “companies that contract with the federal government to document that they complied with federal non-discrimination employment laws” and that they abide by existing laws dealing with discrimination. In fact, President Obama had to issue an accompanying executive order, 13672, prohibiting federal contractors from “discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The reality is that enforcement of any LGBT protections should not have required Executive Order 13672, but as Zack Ford at ThinkProgress noted, those protections would have been stronger with the order in place. Now Trump has signaled that the LGBT community is in for evangelical-sanctioned discrimination because they comprise the only group not specifically afforded employment protection.
President Obama’s Executive Order was the only “legal force protecting over a million workers” because other demographics were “kind of” protected by various other presidential orders and federal laws. The President, Barack Obama, simply amended previous presidential orders that protected employees of federal contractors “on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability and age.” Plus, those groups were afforded limited protection under the Civil Rights, Americans with Disabilities, and Age Discrimination in Employment Acts. The LGBT community only enjoyed nondiscrimination protections on the federal level because, without President Obama’s amendment, less than half the states provide employment discrimination protections to the LGBT community.
The Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal, Camilla Taylor, immediately raised the alarm at Trump’s revocation of President Obama’s order and said the change will impact the LGBT community by verifying to religious employers that under Trump, evangelicals can violate discrimination laws with impunity. Ms. Taylor told Keen News Services that:
“It’s sending a message to these companies…that the federal government simply doesn’t care whether or not they violate the law.”
That sentiment was echoed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director, Kate Kendell who issued a statement saying:
“… Trump’s quiet take-down of federal safeguards against employment discrimination for millions of LGBT Americans is yet another example of why our elected officials, advocates, and our community must remain vigilant and continue working together to stop this administration’s regressive and harmful policies.”
Trump cannot claim that removing discrimination protections is going to create jobs, grow the economy, reduce the debt, raise tax revenue, rebuild infrastructure or combat terrorism. He revoked those protections to satisfy the evangelical hate permeating the religious right extremists in his administration like Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions. The Trump move is a portent of the so-called “religious freedom” executive orders Press Secretary Sean Spicer promised were going to be announced sooner rather than later.
It is noteworthy that Trump promised specifically, as recently as late January, that he would “not rescind President Obama’s 2014 executive orders [13672 and 13673] protecting the LGBT employees of federal contractors.” Not only was he lying then, he just verified what many pundits and columnists have been warning was on the horizon with an administration steeped in evangelical extremism; government sanctioned discrimination founded on religion that will not stop at targeting the LGBT community.