Trump’s Record on LGBT Rights: Death by 1000 Cuts in the First 100 Days

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April 26, 2017
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The very first action of the Trump White House on Inauguration Day was to erase all references to LGBT people and everyone living with HIV from whitehouse.gov.

It’s been downhill from there.

For those keeping score, here are some of the highlights (or lowlights) from the first 100 days. 

Appointments (are reeeally bad)

Presidential appointments speak volumes about who an administration is and what it will stand for.  From Mike Pence on down, President Trump’s selection of some of the most outspoken opponents of LGBT rights in America today to serve in his administration sends a message that is loud and clear. Let’s take a look at some of the other folks on Team Trump:

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a long history of open hostility towards civil rights and has routinely opposed basic protections for LGBT people, people of color, women, immigrants and people with disabilities. We opposed his nomination.
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price has vowed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act—the most effective piece of legislation in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the history of the epidemic. As a congressman, he also voted for a constitutional amendment banning marriage for same-sex couples. We opposed his nomination.
  • Secretary Price named Roger Severino as the director of the Office of Civil Rights within HHS. Severino was formerly a director within the anti-LGBT Heritage Foundation.  He has written numerous blogposts trashing the Affordable Care Act regulations that protect our community from discrimination, and now he’s leading the office charged with enforcing that law. 
  • Anti-LGBT Tennessee lawmaker Mark Green has recently been nominated to serve as secretary of the Army.  Among other notable anti-LGBT comments, Green has said that “transgender is a disease.”  Adding insult to injury, Green would replace the first openly-gay Army Secretary, Eric Fanning.  We oppose his nomination.
  • The confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court will have the longest lasting impact. Justice Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy reads LGBT people out of the Constitution, and gives people license to discriminate as long as they invoke religion.  We opposed his nomination.

Policies (are horrifying)

Beyond staffing and personnel appointments, there are a number of actions, big and small, the Trump administration has taken to undermine or rollback LGBT rights.

  • Shortly after taking office, Attorney General Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded guidance from the Departments of Justice and Education that defended the rights of transgender students to safely use the bathrooms at school that correspond to their gender identity.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice dismissed its lawsuit against North Carolina challenging H.B. 2 after the North Carolina legislature fake repealed the law. The bill that replaced it, H.B. 142, still bars protections for transgender people.
  • Trump continues to threaten the Affordable Care Act, which provides necessary access to critical health services for the LGBT community and people living with HIV, and which also established an Office of LGBT Health at HHS. 
  • Trump signed an executive order and companion legislation that eviscerated an Obama administration initiative to ensure fair pay, safe workplaces, and non-discrimination in employment practices among federal contractors.
  • And a growing number of federal agencies – presumably at the direction of the White House – are turning their back on the LGBT community.   They are doing so by (1) withdrawing survey questions about the health needs of the LGBT elderly, (2) eliminating sexual orientation and gender identity as topics to be covered for the 2020 Census, and (3) rescinding other requests for information about how to serve and protect LGBT people experiencing homelessness.  In sum, the Trump administration is trying to put LGBT people back in the closet by pretending that we simply don’t exist. 

Talk is cheap

On January 31, 2017, the White House issued a statement saying that the President “continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights.”   But let’s be clear – this statement was issued only after the media published a copy of a draft executive order that would blast a hole through existing protections for LGBT federal employees and contractors from discrimination.  Due to the outcry from Lambda Legal and others, the Trump administration reversed course and issued a statement with “alternative facts.”

For if we have learned anything about Trump and how (un)trustworthy he is, we know that his policies can change on a whim and his promises are empty.  As a result, Lambda Legal remains vigilant, and is prepared to respond quickly and decisively should this executive order ever see the light of day

We’ll Be Watching

We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have been targeted for even worse treatment than we have received at the hands of this Administration to date – Muslims, immigrants, people of color.  And because LGBT people are members of these communities, any attacks on those groups hurt many LGBT people as well.   But even though we, as an LGBT community, have not (yet) suffered the kinds of direct political  blows to the head that these other groups have experienced, make no mistake about it - the LGBT community and everyone living with HIV is under attack as well.  A nefarious, incremental, systematic attack on the progress that we have made.  A kind of death by a thousand cuts. 

Trump may think that we haven’t been paying attention, but he’s wrong.  We have been watching his every move, and continue to make sure that everyone knows where he really stands when it comes to the LGBT community.  For the next 1360 days, we will make noise over every anti-LGBT action taken by one of his minions. And when necessary – we’ll do what we do best – haul their you-know-what into court.  And more often than not, we’ll win. 

Get fired up, folks. We’ve only just begun.