There were rumors on January 30 that President Donald Trump is preparing to sign an executive order that would have an impact on the LGBTQ community. A White House spokesperson told NBC News that one is not in the works at this point. Trump also issued a statement, confirming plans to keep a 2014 Obama executive order to protect LGBT workers in place.
However, the rumors were enough to cause the Human Rights Organization to grow concerned. The group called the rumors “deeply troubling.”
It’s also been rumored that the President plans on signing a “religious freedom”-type executive order that would also impact the LGBTQ community. However, a White House official has told BuzzFeed News that they do not have plans to do so “at this time.”
Here’s a look at the rumor and what the executive order reportedly looks like.
1. The Order Would Reportedly Affect ‘Federal Employee Benefits, Protections & Adoption Agencies’
The rumors on January 30 started with a tweet from Washington Post reporter Josh Rogin. He reported that the order would include measures on “adoption.”
“I’m told reliably there is a draft Executive order on LGBT issues including adoption. Details and timing unclear,” Rogin first wrote. He later added, “Follow up: Admin source says LGBT EO could affect federal employee benefits & protections & adoption agencies that receive federal funding. More: EO could allow fed employees to refuse to serve LGBT based on belief marriage is b/t man & woman or gender is immutable from birth.”
If the order does focus on “federal employee benefits” as Rogin reports, the order could be an attempt to pull back an executive order President Barack Obama signed in July 2014 that prohibits “federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
During the first news conference where he took questions, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the Washington Blade that he wasn’t sure if Trump planned to keep the 2014 order in place. “I have to get back to you on that. I don’t know that we’ve gotten that far in the list of executive orders, but I’d be glad to get back to you,” Spicer said.
When the Blade further pushed Spicer, asking if Trump had any plans on rescinding other LGBT executive orders, Spicer replied, “Again, it’s not — I just don’t know the answer. I’ll try to get back to you on that.”
After the rumors spread, Trump issued a statement, saying that he will keep Obama’s executive order in place.
President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community. President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election. 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. The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.
2. The White House Says an LGBT-Related Executive Order ‘Isn’t the Plan at This Time’
Shortly after Rogin’s tweet, NBC News spoke with White House Deputy Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham on the rumored order. “As Sean said in the briefing today – we don’t want to get ahead of the EO/As [executive orders and actions] that are coming, but that isn’t the plan at this time,” Grisham said.
The Washington Blade also asked Spicer about the rumors during the press conference on January 30. Spicer would not confirm or deny the rumors.
“I’m not getting ahead of the executive orders that we may or may not issue,” Spicer told the Blade. “There’s a lot of executive orders, a lot of things the president has talked about and will continue to fulfill, but we have nothing on that front now.”
Rogin later defended his reporting, tweeting, “That’s a long way from denying there’s a draft EO circulating.”
3. Republicans Are Re-Submitting the First Amendment Defense Act That Protects Businesses With Objections to Same-Sex Marriage
Although the executive order might not be on the table immediately, Republicans in the House and Senate are already moving to re-introduce the controversial First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which bars the federal government from “taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”
Senator Mike Lee’s spokesman confirmed to BuzzFeed in December that he will re-introduce the bill. Senator Ted Cruz, who co-sponsored it, also told BuzzFeed that it will be reintroduced.
Lee and Cruz believe that the bill can pass under Trump, especially since Trump himself aid he wanted to pass it during the 2016 campaign. Trump said the bill will “protect the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics and the beliefs of Americans of all faiths.”
“The prospects for protecting religious freedom are brighter now than they have been in a long time,” Cruz told BuzzFeed News in December. “We are having ongoing conversations with our colleagues both in Congress and leaders in the new administration about a multitude of ways we can honor the commitment made to the voters in this last election.”
FADA was first introduced in 2015, but only got a single hearing in the House. Republicans believed that Obama would veto it if it passed.
4. Mike Pence Came Under Fire for His Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana in 2015
Bloomberg reported late Friday that a range of options are under consideration for an executive order that could target LGBTQ people with discrimination, including allowing contractors to discriminate in hiring, allowing taxpayer-funded workers to refuse to serve LGBTQ people or allowing Indiana-style discrimination where contractors could refuse service to LGBTQ people.
“Indiana-style” refers to the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act that then-Governor Mike Pence signed into law in March 2015. Pence, who is now Trump’s Vice President, later ended up signing an amendment to the law to respond to critics who said it allowed for discrimination of the LGBTQ community. Before the amendment was signed, businesses criticized the law and pulled out of Indiana. Cruz was one of the law’s defenders.
5. ACLU & HRC Have Both Said They’ll Fight the Order
The American Civil Liberties Union, which was successful in getting a judge to order a stay for part of Trump’s immigration executive order, said that it will fight the LGBT executive order if it is signed.
In its statement, the Human Rights Campaign’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterof said that the group “will stand with those who have already been targeted by this Administration and are prepared to fight tooth and nail against every effort to discriminate.”
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