Saturday, November 23, 2019

Trump is Reversing LGBT Progress in Plain Sight

The Trump/Pence regime has been waging a relentless war against the LGBT community since day one.  Part of the motivation has been to maintain the support of gay hating evangelical Christians.  The rest seems to be based on simple anti-LGBT animus.  The result is that LGBT individuals - especially those without money and influence - are significantly less secure in their employment and health care access than was the case on the last day of the Obama administration.  In states with laws protecting LGBT rights, some of the threats are lessened at least in the realm of employment and public accommodation, but in the health care realm where federal rules often govern, dangers have increased.  In states without pro-LGBT laws, the situation can be bleak.  Thankfully, here in Virginia, there is about to be a sea change in LGBT protections with Governor Northam telling us recently that he wants to "be bold" on advancing LGBT rights in the next legislative session. Propublica has compiled a list of 31 ways in which the Trump/Pence regime has rolled back LGBT progress.  The list can be found here.  Here are some highlights (read the entire piece):

   When he campaigned for president, Donald Trump posed with the rainbow flag and became the first GOP nominee to mention LGBTQ citizens in his convention speech. . . . . stating he was “determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community.”
      Yet since taking office, Trump’s administration has acted to dismantle federal protections and resources for LGBTQ Americans, particularly those gained under President Barack Obama.
     In a reversal from the Obama administration, the Trump administration has repeatedly taken the position that laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex do not cover a person discriminated against for being gay or transgender. The administration has also pushed for religious exemptions to civil rights laws, which experts say will make it easier to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. The administration has taken particular aim at transgender people . . . . ProPublica reviewed actions taken by the Trump administration that could directly affect LGBTQ citizens. We found dozens of changes that represent a profound reshaping of the way the federal government treats the more than 11 million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
Employment1.       On July 26, 2017, just months after taking office, the president tweeted that he planned to ban transgender people from military service. This announcement reportedly came as a surprise to the generals he claimed to have consulted.
 2.       Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo that reversed the Justice Department’s position on whether the Civil Rights Act protects transgender people from workplace discrimination.
 3.       The Department of Justice, in accordance with Sessions’ memo, submitted a number of briefs in state and federal courts around the country arguing that employers could legally discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Among those were briefs filed in three cases currently in front of the Supreme Court that deal with the issue of workplace discrimination against LGBTQ people.
 4.       The Office of Personnel Management removed guidance written for federal agency managers on how to support transgender federal employees and replaced it with guidance that links to the DOJ’s reinterpretation of the Civil Rights Act, which says that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
 5.       The DOJ sent two memos to all executive branch departments that interpret religious liberty protections in ways that give broad exemptions from federal anti-discrimination laws to agencies and contractors.
 6.       The Department of Labor issued a directive to its staff to exempt contractors from compliance with federal nondiscrimination rules that cover employment if they conflict with a contractor’s religious beliefs. The directive specifically cites sexual orientation and gender identity, and it contradicts promises made by Trump in the early days of his administration that it would safeguard those rules. . . .
 7.       The Department of Labor proposed exempting providers of services and supplies for the military’s TRICARE health program from an executive order that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors.
Schools and Youth Groups1.       The day after Sessions was sworn in as attorney general, the DOJ withdrew the federal government’s challenge to an injunction against trans-inclusive Title IX guidance. Later that month, the DOJ and the Department of Education rescinded that guidance entirely.
 2.       The Department of Education confirmed to multiple news outlets that it was no longer investigating or taking action on complaints filed by transgender students who were barred from restrooms or other facilities that match their gender identity.
 3.       [T]he Trump administration’s Department of Education has drastically scaled back civil rights enforcement for LBGTQ students. The report found that complaints students filed alleging sexual orientation- and gender identity-based discrimination were nine times less likely to result in corrective action under the Trump administration than under the Obama administration.
 4.       According to an investigation by The Des Moines Register, the Department of Agriculture pushed the national 4-H youth organization to withdraw guidance aimed at welcoming and protecting LGBTQ members.
Health Care1.       The Department of Health and Human Services proposed a rule that would eliminate Obama-era regulations explicitly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex stereotyping — stereotypical notions of how those of a certain gender should look or act — and gender identity by federally funded health providers, programs and insurers . . .
 2.       In that same proposed rule, HHS said it planned to eliminate other Obama-era regulations that prohibited discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in certain Medicaid, private insurance and education programs. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, without these nondiscrimination prohibitions, health plan issuers could charge higher premiums or cancel or deny coverage to LGBTQ individuals, and Medicaid managed care programs could discriminate against LGBTQ beneficiaries in enrollment.
 3.       HHS dropped proposed requirements for hospitals to establish policies that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in order to participate in Medicare and Medicaid.
 4.       This spring, the administration issued a new “conscience rule” aimed at significantly expanding protections for federally funded health care providers who refuse to provide some medical services because of religious or moral objections. The rule’s implementation, which had been delayed by legal challenges, was blocked by three federal judges this month.
 5.       The HHS Office for Civil Rights — the part of the agency that enforces health care-related anti-discrimination laws — has taken steps to shift the office’s emphasis from the protection of “equal access” for patients to the protection of “conscience and free exercise of religion” for providers. 6.       HHS announced a new proposed rule that would allow the agency to issue grants to organizations that deny services to LGBTQ people. Specifically, the administration announced that it would immediately drop enforcement ofand will be seeking to roll back — Obama-era regulations that prohibited grant recipients from denying services on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and religion.

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