In today’s United States, there are over 10 million LGBT Americans living, working and striving to persevere in a culture that has historically been against them. They are teachers and doctors, police and military, homemakers and bankers, clergy and scientists, artists and politicians. They are or neighbors, friends and family. They sit in the cubicle across from us and the cars beside us on the road. They live as we all do; together, just trying to make our todays better than our yesterdays.
They are, in no uncertain terms, us.
When Donald Trump was elected, many fears were sparked over what effect the incoming administration would have on the LGBT community. Many argued that – despite Trump’s appointment of tragically anti-gay politician Mike Pence as his running mate and his unnervingly hypocritical support by and pandering to the religious right – the new administration would do little to reverse the slow-yet-substantial progress made during the previous one.
That argument was entirely and unequivocally wrong.
Just over one week ago and barely shy of being three months in office, the president has repealed an Obama-era executive order that prevented LGBT discrimination in the workplace. Known as the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Order,” the original order – introduced by President Obama in 2014 – required contractors who work with the federal government to demonstrate that they have complied with laws barring discrimination on gender identity and sexual orientation for at least three years.
The order itself was paired with a similar policy that prohibited bias against LGBT workers in all federal contracting.
LGBT-rights advocates fear that – despite the new president’s claims to protect LGBT Americans – his push to deregulate for the sake of numbers against marginalized Americans makes it far too easy and likely for LGBT workers to suffer.
“The Obama order was really a way of making sure the federal government was only directing federal contracting dollars to businesses who were good actors,” said Sharon McGowan, Director of Strategy at Lambda Legal. “What President Trump did by repealing the executive order was eliminate a really powerful tool to ensure that companies wanting to get federal business and contracting dollars comply with all their federal obligations.”
“It says a lot about what the ethos of this administration is and will be for the next four years,” she added. “It’s not one that’s interested in advancing the interests of American workers.”
Trump apologists might argue that the president’s nixing of Executive Order 13673 is simply a means of keeping government small and out of companies’ way. They would also probably insist that the affected population would be small and, if so, could easily dodge its impact by simply investing efforts into their workforce itself.
This, too, is wrong.
The order’s repeal – though directly affecting LGBT members – also impacts women and minorities (two other typically marginalized groups by the American right). It affects 14 laws that specifically support and promote workplace fairness, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (which prohibits sexual discrimination in the workplace; though in 2015 the Obama administration extended iit to include gender identity and sexual orientation) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (which largely benefits working women).
Despite obvious and positive cultural growth in America with regard to inclusion, acceptance and non-discriminatory policies for marginalized groups like women, minorities and gays, Trump’s ruling sets an ugly precedent for mainstream culture to follow.
If employers are no longer legally beholden to not discriminate for fear of legal and our financial ramifications, what assurances do the American public have that their friends, families, colleagues – even themselves – will not be victimized due to the perverse nature of regressive world views?Click here for reuse options!
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