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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 31, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 13
Trump to allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT Americans
Section One
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Trump to allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT Americans

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Donald Trump has issued an executive order allowing companies that do business with the federal government to discriminate against LGBT Americans.

The order, issued March 27, revokes President Obama's Executive Order 13673 - the 'Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces' order - requiring companies receiving large federal contracts to demonstrate that they have complied for at least three years with 14 federal laws, several of which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender stereotyping, or gender identity.

Among the 14 laws included in the Obama-era order are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sex in employment. Under the Obama administration, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) argued that discrimination based on 'sex' included discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The ADA and Rehabilitation Act prohibit discrimination based on HIV infection and other disabilities. And the Family and Medical Leave Act, under the Obama Department of Labor, was held to include employees caring for a same-sex spouse, even if the employee lived in a state that did not recognize marriage of same-sex couples.

By rescinding the requirement that federal contractors be able to demonstrate that they have not violated these federal laws, says Camilla Taylor, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, 'this administration has made it extremely difficult to enforce these federal laws as applied to federal contractors.'

'It's sending a message to these companies,' said Taylor, '...that the federal government simply doesn't care whether or not they violate the law.'

When Obama signed Executive Order 13672, the action was hailed by many LGBT activists as protecting 'millions' of LGBT workers from discrimination. It applied to companies who sought federal contracts in excess of $500,000.

While Trump's order takes away an extra layer of enforcement, Taylor said 'the substance of the laws are still there' and Lambda Legal would do everything it can to 'make sure companies understand their obligation not to discriminate.'

Besides revoking LGBT protections, the new Trump order also overrules Executive Order 11246, signed in 1965 by Lyndon Johnson, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Four years later, President Nixon added discrimination based on disability and age. In 1998, President Clinton added sexual orientation. And in 2014, President Obama added gender identity.

All these protections are now gone from federal policy.

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