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Trump just gutted the LGBT executive order he promised not to touch

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Federal contractors will no longer have to provide documentation showing that they don’t discriminate.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

An executive order President Trump signed Monday has gutted the LGBT protections President Obama implemented for employees of federal contractors — as well as many other protections those workers enjoyed.

Trump rescinded the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order, also known as Executive Order 13673, that President Obama issued in 2014. That order required companies wishing to contract with the federal government to show that they’ve complied with various federal laws and other executive orders. Notably, Obama issued that order in tandem with Executive Order 13672, which prohibited contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

This means that there is no way to enforce the LGBT protections granted in 13672 because that order relied on the documentation gathered by 13673. If the federal government doesn’t collect any information about whether contractors have policies protecting against LGBT discrimination and complying with other laws, then it has no way of ensuring that they are abiding by the other policies in place.

This leaves LGBT people particularly vulnerable. Obama’s LGBT executive order amended previous presidential orders that also protected the employees of contractors on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and age, but all of those other categories are still afforded protection under various federal laws (the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act). Sexual orientation and gender identity were the only identity categories without explicit nondiscrimination protections under federal law, and fewer than half the states offer LGBT protections at the state level, meaning Obama’s executive order was the only thing covering over a million workers.

As Camilla Taylor, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, explained to Keen News Service, “It’s sending a message to these companies…that the federal government simply doesn’t care whether or not they violate the law.”

Trump’s new executive order undermines a promise he made just two months ago. When a draft of a “religious freedom” executive order that would have licensed discrimination against LGBT people was circulating, the White House tried to stir up some positive press by promising that it would “leave in place” Obama’s 2014 order protecting LGBT workers.

“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights,” the statement read. The New York Times’ Jeremy Peters fell over himself to praise the statement for using “stronger language than any Republican president has before in favor of equal legal protections for gay lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.”

But it’s not a surprise that Trump ended up gutting the order anyway. Before promising not to touch Obama’s LGBT executive order, Trump promised to undo all of Obama’s executive orders.

Not only are Obama’s LGBT protections no longer enforceable, but that “religious freedom” executive order hasn’t gone away either. A month after the draft leaked and the White House assured LGBT people it wasn’t signing it at that time, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal that it was still coming. “I think we’ve discussed executive orders in the past, and for the most part we’re not going to get into discussing what may or may not come until we’re ready to announce it,” he said at the time. “So I’m sure as we move forward we’ll have something.”


Trump just gutted the LGBT executive order he promised not to touch was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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