According to Representative Steve Russell (D-Okla.), President-elect Donald Trump has given “assurances” that his administration will take immediate action to dispose of laws that protect the rights of LGBT people in the United States.
The Russell Amendment
Rep. Steve Russell added an amendment onto the defense spending bill last Friday, named the Russell Amendment, which would have allowed religious organizations an exemption from President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive order. The order prohibited companies granted federal contracts from discriminating against employees due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Luckily, 42 U.S. senators opposed the legislation, blocking its passage. However, Rep. Russell has reason to believe that the incoming administration will support his fight to allow federal contractors “religious freedom”:
“These issues will be resolved, and we have gotten some very good assurances moving forward… I am certainly encouraged by the signs that I am getting from the administration that is inbound.”
Replacing Good With Bad
Russell further suggested that Trump could remove Obama’s executive order. This would give federal contractors the opportunity to discriminate against LGBT people due to potentially arbitrary religious beliefs:
“You reverse it by clarifying a bad executive order with a good one.”
Rep. Russell seems to have mixed up the meanings of the words “bad” and “good.” Let me see if I can help him out with some examples:
- It’s a “bad” idea to let contractors – paid by the government/our taxes – broadly claim religious affiliation in order to discriminate against people due to their sexual orientation or gender.
- It’s a “good” idea to protect all people regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, etc. from facing individual discrimination due to other people’s bigoted “beliefs.”
Hopefully that helped him out.
LGBT Community Concerned
LGBT advocates are concerned that legislation like the Russell Amendment would allow corporations to make even a superficial claim of religious belief in order to get away with discrimination. These advocacy groups have been receiving calls from many people who are “scared” of what the Trump presidency means for them, and with good reason.
The President-elect has expressed support in the past for legislation that would protect people who discriminate against same-sex marriages from federal penalties. In his outline of his first 100 days in office, Trump stated that he will:
“…Cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum, and order issued by President Obama”
This would likely include Obama’s 2014 executive order protecting LGBT people from discrimination from federal contractors.
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who was a key member of the group of senators that blocked the Russell Amendment, had this to say:
“Eliminating this dangerous provision from the final bill is a victory… But let us be clear: the fight against bigotry, intolerance, and discrimination does not end with the Russell Amendment… Out government should have no part in funding discrimination – not now, not tomorrow, and not next year.”
Watch the video below to see legendary actor George Takei discuss religion and LGBT rights in Trump’s America:
Featured image via screenshot from YouTube video