The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote later this week on the Equality Act, ground-breaking legislation that would explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity while making it clear that religious freedom cannot be misused to justify discrimination.
President Donald Trump, who during the 2016 campaign vowed to be more supportive of LGBTQ rights than his rival Hillary Clinton, yesterday announced that he won’t support the legislation. An unnamed senior administration official told The Washington Blade, “The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights."
That statement is riddled with falsehoods. Far from being oposed to discrimination, the Trump administration has sought to foster it at every turn. Also, it’s hard to see how protecting LGBTQ Americans from discrimination in areas like housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs and jury service threatens parental rights. And the “conscience” claim is just another example of Trump using a warped definition of “religious freedom” as a platform for discrimination.
Bottom line: Trump is siding with his allies in the Religious Right instead of the LGBTQ community he pledged to support. His hypocrisy shouldn’t surprise anyone. Trump obviously never intended to back LGBTQ rights and since taking office has pursued policies that actually roll them back.
“We’re disgusted, but certainly not surprised, by Donald Trump’s announcement that he opposes the Equality Act, which is supported by seven in ten Americans and more than two hundred major businesses,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement issued yesterday. “By opposing this common sense civil rights legislation, Donald Trump is ensuring that LGBTQ people remain at risk of being fired or denied housing in a majority of states. The LGBTQ community, and all Americans for that matter, deserve a president with the courage and decency to sign this bill into law, and we will continue the urgent work to pass the Equality Act and replace Donald Trump with a pro-equality president who will sign it into law.”
It’s time to send Trump and his Religious Right accomplices a firm message: Polls show that the majority of Americans across political boundaries support the Equality Act, and its passage in the House will be an important first step to ensuring that the rights of the LGBTQ community are protected and that no one is treated like a second-class citizen because of someone else’s religion.
And please let your representative in the House know that you support the Equality Act and want him/her to vote for it. The vote is coming soon, so don’t delay! You can do that right here.