Perhaps it was the result of not wanting to ignite further street protests or an effort to be able to pretend that he wasn't targeting LGBT citizens, but for now Der Fuhrer has reversed course and indicated that he will not reverse President Obama's pro-LGBT executive orders. While at first glance, many in the LGBT community are giving a shy of relief. My advice: don't be fooled. Trump has made it very clear that he intends on delivering on his promises to leading Christofascist groups and there is no conflict between leaving the executive orders in place for window dressing while forging ahead with broadened religious exemptions and/or the pending Firs Amendment Defense Act ("FADA") before Congress which Trump has promised to sign. Stated another way, Trump can leave the executive orders in place while indirectly wiping them with FADA that will give immense rights to discriminate against LGBT citizens. A piece in LGBTQ Nation looks at this simple reality. Here are excerpts:
The White House said on Monday that they will keep in place former president Barack Obama‘s executive order banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination among federal contractors.“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of L.G.B.T.Q. rights, just as he was throughout the election,” the statement reads. “The president is proud to have been the first ever G.O.P. nominee to mention the L.G.B.T.Q. community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression. The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.”
The White House statement came in response to growing concerns after LGBTQ Nation reporting that sources close to the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity, were declaring that an executive order allowing for discrimination against the LGBTQ community based on religious beliefs was coming soon, perhaps this week.
Yet there are still reasons to be concerned, as Trump could still sign an executive order carving out a religious exemption which would allow for discrimination, while still keeping Obama’s order in place.
There are also real fears over the First Amendment Defense Act, which would similarly allow for discrimination so long as those doing the discriminating cite a religious belief as the cause of their actions. It has been reported that it will soon be introduced to Congress and Trump has already pledged he would sign it if it were to pass. His pick for Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions also recently defended the proposed legislation.
Advocacy groups, aware of this possibility, and citing concern of the travel ban on seven Muslim majority countries, remain unimpressed.
“Today’s statement says only that President Trump does not intend to take the extreme step of abolishing existing anti-discrimination protections for federal employees and contractors, some of which have been in place for nearly twenty years,” said Kate Kendell, Executive Director at The National Center for Lesbian Rights. “That is not a step forward. We remain concerned by reports that the President intends to issue an order creating new religious exemptions that will permit discrimination against LGBT people and others. This is also a distraction from the imminent announcement of a Supreme Court nominee, which is the most important issue for our community. The Senate must reject any nominee who will turn back the clock on our nation’s commitment to the equality and freedom of LGBT people, including the fundamental right to marry and to be treated equally to other married couples.”
The American Civil Liberties Union mirrored these concerns. “Actions speak louder than words. President Trump has surrounded himself with a vice president and cabinet members who have repeatedly sought to sanction discrimination against LGBT people in the name of religion, and nothing in the White House’s statement makes clear that these efforts are behind us.
“Donald Trump is no friend to the LGBTQ community — regardless of what he or the White House leakers may be suggesting in the media,” said Rea Carey, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund. “We need look no further than his extremist anti-LGBTQ Vice President Pence and Cabinet picks to see the real agenda at play.
There are rumors circulating that Vice President Mike Pence, who backed a religious freedom law in Indiana, has been pushing for the anti-LGBTQ executive order, while Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is said to be pushing back against it. A recent report by Vanity Fair suggests that Kushner is losing influence in a White House dominated by far-right voices, and that he is aware and upset by the situation.
With the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and his special rights for Christofascists mentality, fears of what is to come are all to justified.