By: Stacey Sampson, contributing author
On Monday, January 30, 2017, unconfirmed sources began to spread news that President Donald Trump was preparing to repeal a 2014 executive order introduced by President Barack Obama that protects LGBTQ employees who work for federal contractors from workplace discrimination. This order banned discrimination by companies performing federal work against LGBTQ employees. News and rumors of this potential repeal grew rapidly, with no official comment from the White House early on. As of Tuesday Morning, the White House released a statement vowing to keep the Obama administration protections to LGBTQ federal workers intact.
A draft executive order to repeal these protections began circulating last weekend, prompting the rumors. This draft included multiple revisions to the previous administration’s policy, including possible exemptions for adoption agencies and groups receiving federal funds, to provide the right to deny services to LGBTQ individuals based upon religious freedom. So far, no comment has been made regarding these potential revisions.
So what would it look like if anti-LGBTQ legislation was passed into law?
One in five workers across the country could be affected by a potential revision or repeal of Obama’s prior order protecting federal workers’ rights. If, per the White House statement, that order does remain untouched, another potential hammer looms above the head of the LGBTQ community.
President Trump has previously indicated his support of a proposed First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which would allow for businesses and individuals citing a religious belief to discriminate against people in the LGBTQ community, and would prohibit the federal government from taking discriminatory action against the parties for doing so.
Introduced in 2015, the FADA bill failed to pass due to its potential discrimination against LGBTQ people, unmarried heterosexual couples, and unwed mothers. However, President Trump previously vowed to pass FADA into law, were it to be reintroduced during his term. Though the bill is deceptively presented as the federal government taking “discriminatory action” against a business or an individual that discriminates against LGBTQ people, the underlying concept of the bill paves the way for widespread discrimination, and protection of those that engage in discrimination, with little to no recourse.
A new version of FADA has yet to be introduced. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hold its final hearing and vote on President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. Sessions is one of the original FADA bill’s sponsors and has been outspoken about his support of it.