|Trump and Christian extremist hate group leader Tony Perkins|
As I have maintained many times in the past, the Republican Party remains the enemy of LGBT Americans. Never more so than under the toxic Trump/Pence regime where - except for satiating Trump's ego - nothing is more important than pandering to right wing "Christian" extremists. I use quotations on christian since if one looks at today's evangelical Christians, they are the antithesis of the gospel message of Christ. Hatred towards others and discrimination are the hallmarks of this cancerous form of Christianity. And the toxic influence of these modern day Pharisees persists at the state levels of government as well. Hence the action by a GOP controlled sub-committee in the Virginia General Assembly that acted to kill bills that would have outlawed anti-LGBT housing and employment discrimination against state workers. At the federal level, the attack on LGBT rights is frightening as reported in a piece in Politico. Here are excerpts:
The nation's health department is taking steps to dismantle LGBT health initiatives, as political appointees have halted or rolled back regulations intended to protect LGBT workers and patients, removed LGBT-friendly language from documents and reassigned the senior adviser dedicated to LGBT health.
The sharp reversal from Obama-era policies carries implications for a population that's been historically vulnerable to discrimination in health care settings, say LGBT health advocates. A Health Affairs study last year found that many LGBT individuals have less access to care than heterosexuals; in a Harvard-Robert Wood Johnson-NPR survey one in six LGBT individuals reported experiencing discrimination from doctors or at a clinic.
The Trump administration soon after taking office also moved to change the agency's LGBT-related health data collection, a window into health status and discrimination. Last month it established a new religious liberty division to defend health workers who have religious objections to treating LGBT patients.
The changes at the Department of Health and Human Services represent "rapid destruction of so much of the progress on LGBT health," said Kellan Baker, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health who worked with HHS on LGBT issues for nearly a decade. “It’s only a matter of time before all the gains made under the Obama administration are reversed under the Trump administration, for purposes that have nothing to do with public health and have everything to do with politics.”
[S]taff inside the health department have raised concerns about several other Trump appointees now in senior roles who had a history of anti-LGBT comments before joining the agency. Among them is Roger Severino, a former Heritage Foundation official who has said that the Supreme Court's 2015 decision on same-sex marriage was "wrong" and repeatedly warned of its consequences.
Though Barack Obama as a candidate for president opposed same-sex marriage, his administration immediately took steps to advance LGBT health issues, like loosening the rules on hospital visitation rights after some same-sex couples had been barred from seeing each other.
"[A]ll across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides… [and] uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans," Obama wrote in a 2010 memorandum, instructing HHS to expand visitation rights, a policy that still stands [for now].
The Obama administration in 2016 also finalized a regulation, Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, that banned discrimination in health care based on sexual orientation and extended those protections to transgender individuals for the first time.
But upon taking office last year, the Trump administration swiftly froze a series of LGBT-friendly rules, including proposed new regulations to further ban discrimination in Medicare and Medicaid. A regulation that would have allowed transgender HHS staff more protections when using the department's bathrooms and other facilities also was ignored. . . . . The health agency's new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, which POLITICO first reported last month, is expected to offer greater protections for health care workers who do not wish to treat LGBT patients.
Another quiet battle has been over a pair of HHS surveys, with the Trump administration moving to strike questions about sexual orientation that had been added by the Obama administration in order to understand health disparities and LGBT specific health issues. The two surveys are used to shape policy for older and disabled Americans, respectively. The Trump administration subsequently reinstated some of the questions after an outcry.
Since Trump took office, multiple agencies have pursued policy reversals related to LGBT priorities. Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department suggested that federal law doesn't ban sex discrimination in the workplace for transgender employees, a turnaround from the Obama administration. The Department of Education this month said that it would no longer investigate transgender students' complaints about access to bathrooms. But Christian conservatives [extremists] are noticing, and specifically praising, the reversals at the health department.
Career staff say that, regardless of what agency leaders believe or maintain now, their past comments on LGBT priorities have been widely passed around the 80,000-person department. "I photocopied them and left them in the cafeteria," said one staffer. "It's important for people to know these are the leaders they work for."
It's also fostered a climate where six staffers who are LGBT described removing their wedding rings before coming to work in the morning, taking down photos of their partners and families or ultimately finding new jobs further away from certain political appointees. They did not want to be identified; two said they feared being reassigned for being gay.
Staff also suggested that HHS has bigger priorities than rolling back LGBT health gains. "To the vast majority of Americans, this isn’t that big a deal anymore," said an employee. "It’s perplexing why they spend so much time on it."
Why the agenda of harming LGBT Americans? In my view, it is simple: Christofascists cannot tolerate anything or anyone that challenge their Bronze Age beliefs. Anything that hints that their hate and fear based ideology might be erroneous must be destroyed.