This article was published on June 20th, 2019
Contributed by HRC:
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization slammed the Trump-Pence administration for their attacks on LGBTQ people ahead of Trump’s 2020 campaign launch.
“Since Donald Trump and Mike Pence took office 29 months ago, LGBTQ people have been under constant attack by an administration that is hell-bent on ripping away our progress,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “But time and again, HRC’s grassroots army of more than 3 million strong has fought back, putting up roadblocks on this administration’s path of destruction and discrimination. In the months ahead, we will continue to turn resistance into action by making major investments to turn out the more than 10 million eligible LGBTQ voters in this country and millions more allies to ensure we defeat Donald Trump in 2020 and elect a pro-equality president who will fight for the rights of all Americans.”
This list of 29 items is just the beginning. For a full report on the Trump-Pence attacks on the LGBT community since taking office, please visit the HRC website.
1. Opposition to the Equality Act: Despite support from almost every segment of the U.S. population and a majority of Republicans, President Trump opposed the Equality Act. Last month, the House passed the Equality Act, voting to guarantee critical non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people among other crucial rights.
2. Appointed horrifically anti-LGBTQ judges: Trump has appointed anti-LGBTQ judges with alarming anti-LGBTQ records to appointments at every level of the judicial system, including anti-equality Supreme Court Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.
3. Joked about Pence’s desire to hang gay people: In 2017, Trump joked about Vice President Pence’s anti-gay agenda saying “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”
In the Workplace
4. Banned transgender service members from the military: Against the expert advice of military leadership, medical authorities, budget analysts, 70% of Americans and the armed forces of allied countries, Trump and Pence banned transgender people from serving in the military.
5. Rolled back Obama-era non-discrimination protections: Trump’s Department of Justice upended previous DOJ interpretations of the Civil Rights Act that protect transgender and non-binary workers from employment discrimination and ceased enforcing non-discrimination protections as well as taking a hostile stance to LGBTQ workers in court.
6. Planned new rules to license discrimination: Trump’s Department of Labor issued a directive designed to allow federal contractors to claim a religious exemption to fire LGBTQ workers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
7. Kicked people living with HIV out of the military because of their status: The Department of Defense instituted a “Deploy or Get Out” policy, which would remove military personnel living with HIV from service solely because of their status.
8. Created a hostile work environment for LGBTQ federal employees: According to Politico: “[The Trump administration] 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.”
In Health Care
9. Section 1557 Rule: HHS just published a proposed major change to the administrative rule interpreting Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to remove explicit protections for LGBTQ people in healthcare programs and activities by excluding LGBTQ people from protections from discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity.
10. Advocated for the elimination of the entire Affordable Care Act: The Justice Department issued a legal filing arguing that the entirety of the Affordable Care Act should be overturned. This move would jeopardize health care for over 130 million people with preexisting conditions like HIV and eliminate non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
11. Created a Religious Discrimination Division: HHS created a new office whose sole purpose would be to defend physicians and other medical professionals who decide to refuse care, including to LGBTQ patients.
12. Proposed cutting over $1.35 billion from PEPFAR budget: In his proposed FY 2019 budget, Trump cut $1.35 billion from, or 29% of, PEPFAR’s budget. PEPFAR is the U.S. government program that fights AIDS abroad.
13. Guidance for Schools on Transgender Students: The Departments of Education and Justice eliminated Obama-era guidance clarifying that schools must treat transgender students consistent with their identity. This encourages schools officials to permit harassment of transgender students, deny access to facilities consistent with gender identity, and refuse to use correct names and pronouns — all inflicting untold emotional harm.
14. Rejected Complaints From Transgender Students: The Department of Education refused to respond to civil complaints filed by transgender students, including those who were barred from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. This increases the burden for transgender students to combat these harmful policies.
15. Suggested it is acceptable for schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students while accepting tax-payer funds: Secretary of Education BetsyDeVos has refused to rule out federal funding for schools that discriminate against LGBTQ students and has declined to state she would otherwise intervene should discrimination occur.
16. Sexual Assault: DeVos rescinded Title IX rules related to schools’ obligations to address sexual harassment, including sexual violence. By eliminating the Obama-era rules, DeVos increased the standard of proof from “preponderance of the evidence” to “clear and convincing evidence” making it more difficult for survivors of sexual assault to obtain justice. LGBTQ people are disproportionately affected by sexual assault and harassment, and the stigma that many LGBTQ people face can make it more difficult for survivors to report.
17. Eliminated language protecting LGBTQ children participating in the 4-H program: TheTrump-Pence Administration ordered 4-H programs to remove a policy specifically welcoming LGBTQ children in the 4-H program, which led to the firing of an official who protested.
18. Allowed emergency shelters to deny access to transgender people:Despite the fact that LGBTQ people are significantly more likely to experience homelessness in their lives, HUD Secretary Ben Carson has proposed a rule to permit emergency shelters to deny access or otherwise discriminate against transgender persons who are homeless. HUD also canceled a scheduled survey on LGBTQ homelessness.
19. Placed transgender prisoners in the wrong prison: The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) rolled back an Obama-era policy that housed transgender prisoners consistent with their gender identity. With transgender people experiencing sexual assault at higher rates than average, this decision only puts them at further risk of assault.
20. Allowing foster care programs to discriminate while accepting tax-payer funds: Trump undermined an Obama-era rule that banned discrimination on the basis of religion by foster care organizations receiving federal funds from HHS. This change could prevent thousands of LGBTQ parents from being able to provide stable and loving homes for over 400,000 children in foster care nationwide.
21. Refusing visas to partners of diplomats: The State Department began refusing visas for same-sex partners of some diplomats and U.N. workers if they are not married
22. Changed rules to deny surrogate born children citizenship: The Trump Administration has interpreted immigration rules specifically so the child of a same-sex couple born abroad via surrogate would be considered “born out of wedlock” and making it more difficult to obtain U.S. citizenship
23. Erased transgender people: Trump’s HHS proposed a new definition that would narrowly define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by birth. According to the New York Times: “The new definition would essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million [transgender] Americans.” In addition, agency staff, including those at the Centers for Disease Control, have been instructed to stop using the word transgender in official reports.
24. Eliminated information on LGBTQ rights, mentions, and representation on government websites: Within hours of Trump’s swearing-in, pages on LGBTQ rights and recognition were removed from government websites, including the White House.
25. Blocked questions regarding sexual orientation from consideration for the census: Trump and Pence have sought to block questions on sexual orientation from the census in order to erase LGBTQ people from official counts. This would, in turn, prevent the collection of crucial data that could help improve government programs and resources for LGBTQ people.
26. Refused to recognize LGBTQ people in National AIDS day Address: Despite being the community most affected by the epidemic, Vice President Pence has consistently refused to acknowledge LGBTQ people in his addresses on National AIDS day.
In the World:
27. Embassy Pride Flags: Pence defended the State Department directive to ban U.S. embassies across the world from flying the LGBTQ Pride Flag during Pride Month.
28. Left the U.N. Human Rights Council: Trump and Pence, over LGBTQ and other issues, removed the United States from the U.N. Human Rights Council.
29. Chechnya: Trump and Pence refused to condemn attacks on LGBTQ people in Chechnya, where atrocities against queer people are horrific and ongoing.
With Donald Trump mired in lurid scandals and investigations that threaten his presidency, Mike Pence has flown under the radar, amassing enormous power in an administration hobbled by clueless advisors, inexperienced staffers and a revolving cast of lawyers. Pence is exploiting that alarming leadership void by quietly spearheading a charge to radically undermine the rights of LGBTQ people and women, attack voting rights, undercut sound science, and enable the greatest assault on American institutions in modern history.
In 2018, HRC mobilized 52 million Equality Voters nationwide to help elect pro-equality leadership in state and federal offices in six target states: Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In those states, pro-equality candidates won 5/5 Senate Seats, 4/6 Governor’s mansions and broke anti-equality trifectas or supermajorities in 4/6 states. Now, HRC will build upon the tremendous successes in these states to elect a pro-equality President in 2020.