Trump Stops Short Of Axing LGBT Protections

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it will continue to enforce Obama's executive order that bans federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees

Jan 31, 2017 at 4:56 PM ET

The Trump administration announced Tuesday that, contrary to rumor, it’s not going to roll back workplace protections for people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. The news, which in less roiling times would be a non-event, was greeted with a tepid sigh of relief from the LGBT community — and anger that it was even being discussed in the first place.

Signed in July 2014 by then-President Barack Obama, the order gave discrimination protection on the basis of sexuality and gender identity to federal contractors, who make up about 28 million workers, or a fifth of the U.S. workforce.

“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was on the campaign trail,” the White House Office of the Press Secretary said in a statement on Tuesday. “The President is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.”

Those mentions aside, discussion of gay rights was largely absent from Trump’s campaign events. But then, Trump filled his cabinet with religious conservatives, including Vice President Mike Pence who once called same-sex marriage “societal collapse,” and prioritized signing a global ban on abortion funding in his first week. In that context, an anti-LGBT order didn’t seem so far fetched.

And so, LGBT rights advocates and allies expressed tepid relief, but many stopped far short of congratulations. “Trump’s bar is set so low that not stripping people of basic rights makes him some sort of civil rights hero,” wrote one. “Why was this even on the table?” asked actor and gay-rights activist George Takei.

Others, meanwhile, were overtly critical of Trump and his agenda — especially after a week of controversial executive orders on immigration. “Donald Trump has done nothing but undermine equality since he set foot in the White House,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Tuesday, as quoted by CNN. Others called for solidarity between minority groups and noted that, just because this rollback didn’t happen, the possibility of other discriminatory measures from the Trump administration persists.