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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 23, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 25
Oops! We accidently deleted protections for LGBT federal employees, Trump officials say
Section One
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Oops! We accidently deleted protections for LGBT federal employees, Trump officials say

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Trump officials say that they accidentally removed protections for LGBT federal employees.

Trump Commerce Secretary and former vulture capitalist Wilbur Ross issued a new version of the Secretarial Policy Statement on Equal Employment Opportunity - the guidelines for employee protections in his department.

LGBT rights advocates quickly discovered that the new guidelines omit any reference to sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Obama-era statement issued in 2016 listed protected characteristics as 'race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, genetic information, or disability.'

The list issued by Ross simply says, 'The Department of Commerce does not tolerate behavior, harassment, discrimination, or prejudice based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability.'

When Commerce Department officials were asked by BuzzFeed News about the revised guidelines, they denied they were changing federal employment policies.

'To be clear, the Department's EEO policy statement was never intended to change the policy or exclude any protected categories,' the Commerce Department explained.

'The Department of Commerce policy remains that we do not discriminate on the basis of transgender status and sexual orientation. Department employees will continue to enjoy the fullest extent of the protections of all the nondiscrimination laws.'

Officials added that the policy would be reissued with the original wording restored.

'Secretary Ross has directed the Department to reissue the policy statement to address any concerns and prevent misinterpretation,' they promised.

Their statement was met with considerable skepticism, however.

'You can't unring a bell,' Democratic National Committee spokesperson Joel Kasnetz said.

'By trying to erase LGBTQ people from the Commerce Department's nondiscrimination policy, the Trump administration sent a crystal clear message to LGBTQ Americans: 'You're not welcome here.'

'While the Trump administration is trying to turn back the clock on progress, Democrats will fight for LGBTQ Americans' right to feel safe in their place of work.

'We demand the Trump administration make a commitment to strengthen instead of roll back protections for LGBT Americans.'

David Stacy, HRC's Government Affairs Director, said 'Yet again, we see the Trump/Pence Administration actively seeking to undermine rights for LGBTQ people.

'The Department of Commerce's latest move to exclude sexual orientation and gender identity in their Equal Employment Opportunity statement is mean-spirited, deceptive, and irresponsible.

'Under the Civil Service Reform Act and the executive orders signed by Presidents Clinton and Obama, sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination is prohibited in federal employment. The Commerce Department's EEO statement is meant to inform workers and applicants about their legal protections.

'Cutting specific mention of sexual orientation and gender identity protections is a slap in the face to LGBTQ federal employees who proudly serve at the Department of Commerce and sadly signals that this administration does not value them.'

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