Trump can have as many photo-ops with the LGBTQ+ flag, but his policies discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community and we're noticing.
United States President Donald Trump may have promised equal freedoms to those in the LGBTQ+ community, but his track record thus far has not quite remained true to his initial promises. Last week, it was uncovered that the Trump administration has been quietly but systematically removing mentions of the LGBTQ+ community from federal anti-discrimination policies, The Huffington Post reports. Inclusions of sexual orientation were made to these anti-discrimination policies during the Obama era, a move that was highly praised at the time. However, just as Trump completes his last year in his first term as President, it appears that his administration was simply "talking out of both sides of its mouth when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights."
The move was made by Trump's Department of the Interior, the federal executive department tasked with, among other duties, managing the majority of the federal government's public lands. In 2009, under former President Barack Obama, the federal agency’s ethics guide with regard to workplace discrimination read, "You shall adhere to all laws and regulations that provide equal opportunities for all Americans regardless of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability." In 2017, the department - with great subtlety - amended its policy to include only the following categories: race, color, religion, sex, age, or handicap.
When questioned about the change, Interior Department spokeswoman Carol Danko chalked it up to a "simple clarification in language," claiming that the agency complies with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s understanding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and sex, extends to LGBTQ employees. She stated, "Per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, under Title VII the term ‘sex’ includes gender, gender identity, transgender status, sexual orientation, and pregnancy."
Moreover, this is not the first agency or department to do so. News of departments changing anti-discrimination policies arose as soon as Trump assumed office in 2016. For instance, within mere "minutes" of being sworn into office, LGBTQ+ mentions and content had been deleted from the White House, State Department, and Labor Department websites. Ever since, the federal government has, little by little, been making changes to anti-discrimination policies across the board. In addition to this, other arms of the federal government have been removing or omitting online content related to the LGBTQ+ community and their rights, NBC News reports. This is also the same amendment that was made in a letter sent by then-Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to agency staff on the first day of his job. A draft of the letter displays the term “sexual orientation” crossed out in bright red, along with several other minor changes. At present, it remains unclear who exactly made the changes, but it is still, at best, an unnecessary change, and at worst, an attack on the LGBTQ+ community by of the Trump administration.
GLAAD, a national LGBTQ advocacy group, has thus launched a Trump Accountability Project aimed at keeping the President in check, comparing his promises to his actions. Since Trump assumed office, there have been 133 recorded attacks on LGBTQ+ people as per the tracker. GLAAD President and Chief Executive Sarah Kate Ellis said in light of this, "We started this decade with tremendous hope and momentum, and are finishing it with a need to protect all we have achieved in the face of a continuous series of attacks in policy and rhetoric from the Trump administration. The fight for LGBTQ acceptance is far from over and in this new decade, we must continue to use all that we have learned throughout the history of the LGBTQ movement and push forward together in an intersectional and united way."
Meanwhile, though the Trump administration is yet to respond to the claims directly, deputy press secretary Judd Deere told NBC News in November, "As the first US President in our history to favor same-sex marriage when he was sworn in, President Trump has never considered LGBT Americans second-class citizens and has opposed discrimination of any kind against them. While the radical left has pushed disgusting and false accusations that LGBT Americans are threatened, the President has hired and promoted LGBT Americans to the highest levels of government, including positions at the White House, Cabinet agencies, and ambassadorships." How far this is true is yet to be seen, but with a little less than a year left in his Presidency, Trump may have committed damage that will take his successor years to clean up.