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Trump Administration & Gay Rights

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Trump quotes:

"Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs." - 2016

"Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time the terrorist targeted our LGBT community. As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology." - at RNC 2016

"“Ask yourself who is really the friend of women and the L.G.B.T. community, Donald Trump with actions or Hillary Clinton with her words?” - 2016

"If a gay person can be a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher or take another position of responsibility, why can't they serve this country in the military?" - 2000

"If a gay person can be a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher or take another position of responsibility, why can't they serve this country in the military?" - 2000

"'Don't ask, don't tell' has clearly failed. Gay people serve effectively in the military in a number of European countries. There is no reason why they can't serve in the United States." - 2000

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On Wednesday, the Department of Justice filed an amicus brief in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit discrimination against gay and bisexual employees. The DOJ’s brief was not solicited by the court or any party to the case. Rather, in an unusual move, the Trump administration elected to weigh in with an aggressively anti-gay stance, arguing that gay Americans have no protection against workplace discrimination under federal law. Its decision is unsurprising in light of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ vigorous opposition to LGBTQ rights.


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How LGBT Americans have fared since Trump’s election

Published: Nov 11, 2017 10:03 a.m. ET



A year after Trump’s win, LGBT candidates won big in Tuesday’s elections

MW-FW558_lgbt_1_20171018201900_ZH.jpg?uuJOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images
Under the Trump administration, activists argue that the LGBT community has been dealt numerous setbacks as the White House sought to flip policies put in place by President Obama.




LGBT candidates scored historic wins in Tuesday’s elections — but the year since President Trump’s election win has been filled with setbacks for LGBT Americans.

Danica Roem became the first openly transgender person elected to a state legislature in U.S. history with her win in Virginia’s 13th district, while the election of Andrea Jenkins to the Minneapolis City Council made her the first openly transgender black woman to be elected to public office in America. These were just two of the many races across the country in which LGBT candidates notched historic wins.

The elections provided a strong counterpoint to many of the political developments in the year since Trump’s upset win. While on the campaign trail last year, Trump repeatedly framed himself as a friend to the LGBT community, even though he suggested he was against same-sex marriage. And under the Trump administration, activists argue that the LGBT community has been dealt numerous setbacks as the White House sought to flip policies put in place by President Obama.

Also see: More than half of LGBT workers face repeated bullying

“In the Obama years, the wheels of government were guided by a philosophy of inclusion,” said Bob Witeck, president and founder of Witeck Communications Inc., a public relations firm in Washington, D.C. and a marriage equality advocate. Witeck said of the Trump administration: “Most of the changes we’re witnessing have been reversals.”

Here are some of the major events that have affected the LGBT community since last November:


The White House said transgender workers aren’t protected by civil rights law…

In October, Jeff Sessions distributed a memo notifying Justice Department employees that the department would no longer argue that transgender people are protected against workplace discrimination by existing civil rights law. The new stance will apply to pending and future cases, except where lower-court precedent says otherwise.

That memo reversed an Obama administration policy that considered bias against transgender individuals to be a form of sex discrimination, entitling them to protections laid out in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Prior to Sessions’s memo, the Justice Department had already filed an amicus brief that argued Title VII did not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation.

…and tried to ban transgender people from the military

In August, President Trump announced his intentions to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military, reversing yet another policy ushered in by the Obama administration that lifted the longstanding ban on transgender people in the military. The Obama administration had set July 1, 2017 as a target date for transgender individuals to begin being able to enlist.

Transgender servicemembers scored a victory in late October when U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered a preliminary injunction that will stop Trump’s executive order from going into effect.

Don’t miss: Why LGBT pride festivals have become increasingly corporate

Neil Gorsuch joined the Supreme Court, dissented on key decision regarding gay parents

One of President Trump’s biggest wins since his inauguration was the successful appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Though he downplayed his opinions regarding the LGBT community during the confirmation process, Gorsuch appeared poised to continue his predecessor Antonin Scalia’s conservative stance in relation to LGBT rights. In particular, Gorsuch dissented from the Supreme Court’s decision that both members of a same-sex couple have the right to be listed on their children’s birth certificates, regardless of whether they were a biological parent or not.

The president’s influence on the judicial branch isn’t limited to Gorsuch though. Many of Trump’s nominees for lifetime, federal court appointments hold strong conservative views against the LGBT Community, Witeck said. “Gorsuch is nothing next to what they’re doing to the federal judiciary,” he said. “That’s going to be one of the most disruptive, problematic things we’re going to face.”

India's LGBT Community Campaigns for Rights

Pivotal religious freedom case moves forward in courts

The Supreme Court announced in June that it would consider the court case involving a Colorado bakery that refused service to same-sex couples. Jack Philips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, argues that the Constitution’s religion clauses allowed him to turn away LGBT customers.

The Trump administration in September indicated it will back Masterpiece Cakeshop in the case. Meanwhile, 35 amicus briefs were filed in support of the gay couple who were refused service, including one signed by 211 Democratic members of Congressand others by celebrity chefs.

That the Trump administration was in favor of an exemption on the basis of religious freedom was not a major surprise. President Trump signed a “religious freedom” executive order in May — and while the final version didn’t have an explicit impact on the LGBT community, earlier drafts created concerns that the White House could roll back LGBT rights.

Infamous ‘bathroom bill’ repealed in North Carolina

In March, North Carolina lawmakers successfully voted to repeal House Bill 2, also known as HB2 or the “bathroom bill.” The law, which went into effect in 2016, prohibited transgender people from using restrooms that corresponded with their gender identity.

HB2 affected nearly 38,000 transgender people in North Carolina and sparked significant backlash in political and business circles. The “bathroom bill” led to the withdrawal of more than $40 million in business investment after it was initially passed, which resulted in the loss of more than 1,250 jobs according to the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the University of California.

The backlash against the bathroom bill did not deter conservative politicians from exploring similar legislation in other states. The Texas Senate passed a similar bill in July that would require people to use public facilities that correspond with the gender they were assigned at birth. And the Trump administration in February withdrew previous guidance issued by the Obama administration that required schools to provide facilities to transgender students that were consistent with their gender identity.

Census Bureau reverses decision regarding data collection on the LGBT community

This summer, the U.S. Census Bureau signaled that it would remove questions about sexual orientation from the survey used to create the 2020 Census. The move prompted Democratic senators Tom Carper of Delaware and Kamala Harris of California to request a response from the agency regarding why it made the decision.

Read more: For transgender Americans, workplace discrimination is still a major problem

Since then, the Census Bureau has relented and said it will continue to include the question. Government data collection is critical to the LGBT community, said Christy Mallory, Senior Counsel at the Williams Institute. “It’s really important to ask those questions because that’s how we get information on the needs of the LGBT population and how they differ from the general population,” she said.

‘Will & Grace’ returns to the air

Hit NBC TK ticker sitcom “Will & Grace” rode the reboot-wave and returned to the airwaves after last running new episodes more than a decade ago, scoring 10.2 million viewers for its “premiere” episode, according to Nielsen. The reboot has since been renewed for another season.

When it originally bowed, “Will & Grace” was heralded as groundbreaking for its depiction of gay characters. The series continues to explore both political topics — a recent episode took place in part at a “gay conversion” summer camp — and same-sex romance.

Though much progress needs to be made, the media landscape continued to grow more friendly toward LGBT representation. The number of LGBT regular and recurring characters on scripted shows across broadcast, cable and streaming television networks has reached an all-time high, according to GLAAD.

LGBT issues weren’t just featured in scripted dramas: On the reality series “Survivor,” one contestant faced sharp criticism after he outed another competitor as transgender. And in cinema, critically-acclaimed films like “Battle of the Sexes” and “Call Me by Your Name” also prominently showcased LGBT characters.


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The Trump Administration Plans To Announce And Defend A New Transgender Military Policy

The Justice Department "will not be defending the policy now at issue," a federal judge wrote this week, "but will be defending the policy to be disclosed on February 21, 2018."

Originally posted on 
Updated on 
Chris Geidner
Chris Geidner
BuzzFeed News Reporter
Washington, DC
Reporting From
Washington, DC
Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Justice Department lawyers have told a federal judge that they will be defending a new policy regarding transgender military service that will be "disclosed" by the Trump administration on Feb. 21, the federal judge wrote in an order this week.

No further information about what that policy will be was included in the order, and federal officials declined to provide any further information about the substance of the forthcoming policy.

There are currently several cases challenging Trump's policy that called for an end to open transgender military service. US District Judge Marvin Garbis, who is overseeing one of those cases, noted the new policy development in the course of a brief ruling on when the government must turn over certain information to those challenging the policy.

The Feb. 21 date referenced is likely referring to a date set by President Trump's August memorandum that set the policy. Under the memorandum, the defense secretary is supposed to submit an implementation plan for the three portions of the memo — recruitment rules, retention, and health care — to Trump by Feb. 21.

All three of those provisions have been put on hold by various federal courts — including by Garbis in a challenge backed by the ACLU — and the administration stopped fighting a Jan. 1 deadline for accepting new military recruits who are transgender days before the deadline went into effect.

This week, Justice Department lawyers argued in one of those challenges that the defendants could not comply with obligations to turn over the required information "because they will not be defending the policy now at issue but will be defending the policy to be disclosed on February 21, 2018," Garbis wrote in a Tuesday order, summarizing what the Justice Department's lawyers had said in a telephone conference from earlier in the day. A lawyer for the challengers who was on the call confirmed the accuracy of the judge's account.

Asked about the statement that a new "policy" would be "disclosed on February 21, 2018," Maj. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesperson, said that the Pentagon only would be preparing "recommendations," but that a final decision on the "new policy" would come from the White House.

"The panel that was established by the Secretary of Defense is presenting their recommendations to him. At the end of this month, The Secretary will make his recommendations to the President, who will then make a decision and establish the new policy on transgender [service] in the military," Eastburn told BuzzFeed News.

Regarding its defense of that policy, noted by Garbis, Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec told BuzzFeed News, "We will continue to defend the President's and Secretary of Defense’s lawful authority in district court."

Under Garbis's order, the Justice Department is to fulfill their evidentiary obligations in the case "shortly after February 21, 2018."

The White House did not respond to a request for comment, and the Defense and Justice departments did not provide any additional clarification on the plans or timeline for making them public.


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