In addition to issues involving the environment, immigration, and national security, the Trump Administration has been in the headlines recently for its stance on matters impacting the LGBT community.
As we reported in a late-January, after close deliberation with daughter Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner, President Trump expressed support for LGBT rights and vowed to leave intact President Obama’s LGBT Executive Order protecting rights for individuals on the basis gender identity and sexual orientation. At the time, this move was seen by many as a sign that President Trump would generally support the rights of the LGBT community.
However, recent events have sent mixed messages on the subject.
This week, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice under President Trump rescinded the Obama Administration’s May 2016 “Dear Colleague Letter” directing schools to “treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of Title IX and its implementing regulations.” That Letter offered guidance on a range of LGBT issues, including access to restrooms, locker rooms, and similar facilities, equal participation in educational programs and activities, and recordkeeping and privacy.
Additionally, it was reported earlier this week that OFCCP has filed an administrative law complaint alleging denial of access in connection with President Obama’s LGBT Executive Order. To clarify, this complaint was filed by the previous administration under then-Solicitor Patricia Smith. Regardless, the case is important as it is the first of its kind to involve enforcement of the LGBT Executive Order and is now in the hands of the recently appointed acting DOL Solicitor Nicholas Geale.
These two actions above are not, however, likely to be the last word on the topic. During the campaign, Trump stated he would support the controversial First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). If passed and signed by the President, FADA would essentially prevent the federal government from taking adverse action against people, businesses or institutions which discriminate based on sexual orientation according to a belief that “marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” His support of the FADA would be contrary to the support he provided to President Obama’s executive order yet would be consistent with the actions of the Departments of Education and Justice this week. Once again, we will have to stay tuned to see what happens next.