After banning transgender soldiers from joining the military and targeting civil rights protections in the Supreme Court, U.S. President Donald Trump’s attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) citizens continue to escalate unnoticed.
Due to the turmoil of the impeachment vote in December and increasing tensions with Iran at the beginning of the new decade, there has been little coverage of the Trump administration’s change in guidelines regarding LGBTQ+ federal employees.
On Dec. 27, for example, the Huffington Post unearthed that in August 2017 the term “sexual orientation” was explicitly removed from the Department of Interior’s guidelines regarding workplace discrimination. This decision could potentially bar any LGBTQ+ individual from working anywhere in the Department of Interior, which employs 70,000 people.
The department denied that the adjustment was meant to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, but rather that it was meant to be clarifying language. The Trump administration argued that protections of “sex” qualified as protections for both gender identity and sexual orientation.
However, this assertion is difficult to believe. Trump’s Justice Department has actively argued that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act does nothing to protect workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Individuals who seek to discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans have long echoed the Trump administration’s sentiment.
Conservative groups like “Focus on the Family,” for instance, have made statements criticizing legislation requiring “churches, religious for-profit organizations and businesses to hire homosexuals.”
There is a clear link between these two decisions from the executive branch — they are meant to uphold discrimination. Despite the Trump campaign selling rainbow-clad merchandise and even investing in LGBTQ+ outreach, their policies clearly pander to people who want to reverse social progress on gender and sexuality.
An individual’s gender identity and sexual orientation have no bearing on their ability to do a job, and holding a different standard to other Americans is blatantly against the constitutional right of free expression.
U.S. presidents in the past have displayed open contempt for LGBTQ+ Americans, and even ostensibly progressive politicians didn’t support gay marriage until recently. President Barack Obama, for instance, didn’t endorse gay marriage until 2012.
President Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t always attack LGBTQ+ Americans in his rhetoric. The actions of his administration, however, tell a very different story.
Jared Sellick is a senior studying political science.