Leaked order could spell trouble for LGBT community

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President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump

An executive order was leaked on Tuesday from the White House hours after President Trump made a statement that he planned on leaving an Obama-era order in place. The order was instituted in 2014 and prohibited workplace discrimination against federal LGBT employees and contractors.

“President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community,” the White House said in a statement Tuesday morning. “President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election.”

The leaked executive order, focusing on religious freedom, would weaken protections to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination as consumers or employees, roll back a directive that forced private companies to provide contraceptive coverage as part of health plans offered to employees. It would also allow tax-exempt institutions to speak out on “moral or political issues from a religious perspective” without fear of reprisals in the form of tax status.

Sarah Kate Ellis from GLAAD.
Sarah Kate Ellis from GLAAD.

Some of the language in the drafted order stated that it would become administration policy: “Americans and their religious organizations will not be coerced by the federal government into participating in activities that violate their conscience and will remain free to express their viewpoints without suffering adverse treatment from the federal government.”

Though it is still speculative, the circulation of this leaked order swept through Washington and sparked action by GLAAD, among other gay rights advocacy groups.

“If anything in this document were to become federal law, it would be a national license to discriminate, and it would endanger LGBTQ people and their families,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president and CEO.

Several conservative and religious groups have long protested the Obama order, arguing that it violated their religious rights by forcing them to provide services to groups such as the LGBT community. Trump’s order wouldn’t roll back Obama’s but it would allow for companies and individuals the right to refuse services such as adoptions to gay and lesbian couples.

Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the draft “sweeping and dangerous.”

“It reads like a wish list from some of the most radical anti-equality activists,” Griffin said in a statement. “If true, it seems this White House is poised to wildly expand anti-LGBTQ discrimination across all facets of the government — even if he does maintain the Obama [executive order from 2014]. If Donald Trump goes through with even a fraction of this order, he’ll reveal himself as a true enemy to LGBTQ people.”