Biden Signs EO Prohibiting LGBTQ Discrimination In Federal Agencies

President Joe Biden signs executive order prohibiting LGBTQ discrimination in all federal agencies
President-elect Joe Biden

Just hours after taking the oath of office, President Joe Biden signed 17 executive orders including one prohibiting LGBTQ discrimination in all federal agencies.

The first paragraph of the executive order states, “All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

The order instructs the head of each agency to “review all existing orders, regulations, guidance documents, policies, program or other agency actions” that prohibit sex discrimination to revise and amend such policies to include banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The order cites the Supreme Court ruling for Bostock v. Clayton County which was handed down on June 15, 2020. The 6-3 decision found that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation because such animus is a form of “sex discrimination” which is clearly prohibited under the Civil Rights Act.

In the seven months since the ruling, the Trump administration chose to not implement the ruling. That inaction was consistent with most of the Trump administration’s policies regarding LGBTQ rights and protections.

Biden’s executive order is more expansive than just the Bostock ruling, however.

The order notes that, under Bostock’s reasoning, “laws that prohibit sex discrimination — including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Fair Housing Act, and section 412 of the Immigration and Nationality Act — prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, so long as the laws do not contain sufficient indications to the contrary.”

Biden also addresses how discrimination can often overlap with other forms of prohibited discrimination including animus based on the basis of race or disability. The language specifically notes that “transgender Black Americans face unconscionably high levels of workplace discrimination, homelessness, and violence, including fatal violence.”

The executive order is a great start – especially seeing our new president addressing LGBTQ concerns on his first day on the job. But the order will have limitations in that some civil rights legislation doesn’t name sex as a protected class.

That makes the passage of the Equality Act, which would expand all federal civil rights laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity protections.

Biden has promised to sign the Equality Act, which would add LGBTQ protections to existing federal civil rights laws, into law within his first 100 days. But the impending second impeachment trial of Donald Trump may slow things down a bit.

The Senate Judiciary committee, which would oversee the Equality Act bill, is the same committee now tasked with the impeachment proceedings.

Additionally, Senate Democrats will need ten Republican colleagues to vote in favor of the bill since there’s the 60 vote threshold required to close debate and move to a vote.

Jen Psaki, the new White House press secretary, told the Washington Blade that President Biden plans on issuing an executive order in the next few days that would reverse the Trump administration’s ban on military service by transgender Americans.

Other executive orders signed Wednesday reversed Trump’s Muslim travel ban, stopped construction of the Mexico border wall, and rejoining the Paris climate agreement.

Trump To Abandon Citizenship Question On Census, Will Seek Info By Other Means

Donald Trump

CNN reports that Donald Trump will back down from his push to have a question regarding citizenship on the 2020 census.

Instead, he’ll issue an executive order asking the Commerce Department to obtain the citizenship info he wants through other means.

These people said Trump is expected to table his effort to add a question about citizenship status to the 2020 census, setting aside his demands last week to continue pursuing the issue despite a Supreme Court order blocking it.

Trump tweeted Thursday morning he would be holding a press conference in the Rose Garden in the afternoon about “the census and citizenship.” Attorney General William Barr will participate in the event, according to Justice Department spokesperson Kelly Laco. The Justice Department declined further comment on the details of the planned announcement.

The Supreme Court late last month blocked a citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census. The bitter controversy centers around whether the administration can ask all recipients a citizenship question on the 2020 census for the first time since 1950 — a move that could impact the balance of power in states and the House of Representatives, which are based on total population.

Opponents say adding the citizenship question could discourage undocumented immigrants from answering the questionnaire.

That could, in turn, produce lower population counts. And those counts are used to apportion congressional districts, as well as determine where federal funds are used.

More from the New York Times:

Government experts have predicted that asking the question would cause many immigrants to refuse to participate in the census, leading to an undercount of about 6.5 million people.

That could reduce Democratic representation when congressional districts are allocated in 2021 and affect how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending are distributed.

North Carolina Governor Issues Executive Order Prohibiting LGBT Discrimination By State Agencies

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has signed an executive order that prohibits any state agency, or contractors who do business with the state, to discriminate against LGBTs.

The executive order adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s list of protected classes at least in terms of state agencies or those who do business with the state.

Cooper told the media, “By requiring companies that contract with the state to have non-discrimination policies, the state can promote protections for more North Carolinians outside of state government.”

Cooper is also proposing a settlement in the lawsuit challenging House Bill 2 and House Bill 142, the so-called bathroom bill and it’s repeal legislation.

The proposal would allow transgender citizens use of public restrooms and other facilities that match their gender identity.

A federal judge still has to sign off on that settlement.

Trump Signs Executive Order To Make “Junk” Health Insurance Policies More Available

Donald Trump, frustrated with his inability to lead the GOP-controlled Congress to reform healthcare, today did exactly what he criticized President Obama for and signed an executive order circumventing the legislative process.

Trump’s executive order will allow the sale of cheaper, less regulated policies with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers than those mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

In other words, this is basically the health insurance version of buying a Yugo.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Trump’s order could eventually make it easier for small businesses to band together and buy insurance through new entities known as association health plans, which could be created by business and professional groups. A White House official said these health plans “could potentially allow American employers to form groups across state lines” — a goal championed by Mr. Trump and many other Republicans.

[snip]

Consumer groups and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, representing state officials, have opposed association health plans because they could be largely exempt from state regulation.

Association health plans can “cherry-pick healthy groups,” making it more difficult for less healthy groups to find affordable coverage, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners told Congress this year.

Some state regulators and insurers greeted the move with alarm and warned that by relaxing standards for association health plans and short-term policies, Mr. Trump would create low-cost insurance options for the healthy, driving up costs for the sick and destabilizing insurance marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act.

This will severely impact the LGBTQ community, especially those people with pre-existing conditions like HIV who won’t be able to access these junk policies intended primarily for younger, healthier people.

In offering these cheaper policies health care insurance providers will have to raise the premiums on regular insurance policies.

“Within a year, this would kill the market,” said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

President Trump Signs Executive Order Easing Restrictions On Religious Institutions

This morning, President Trump signed an executive order easing the restrictions on politicking by tax exempt religious institutions.

The executive order was written to undermine the Johnson Amendment, the 1954 law that prohibits 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, such as churches — from making political endorsements. Trump promised on the campaign trail to “destroy” the Johnson Amendment.

Signing an executive order gives guidance to federal agencies but does not rescind the law. That would take an act of Congress.

It was widely expected that today’s EO would follow the blueprint of an anti-LGBT “religious liberty” executive order. leaked to The Nation last month. The actual text of today’s EO has not been released, but on a conference call last night, reporters were told the EO would not pertain to LGBT issues.

The document below was handed out to reporters last night as bullet points regarding today’s executive order.

I’ll be curious to read the outrage from far-right conservatives who may feel they didn’t get the “religious liberty”/license to discriminate EO they might have expected.

Sean Spicer Dodges Questions On Anti-LGBT Executive Order

You can watch the Washington Blade‘s Chris Johnson try to get a straightforward answer about tomorrow’s impending anti-LGBT executive order from President Trump.

Note the self-satisfied look on Sparky Spicer’s face.

Good on you, Chris, you tried.

#deflection

Justice Department Files Appeal To 9th Circuit Court Regarding Trump Immigration Policy

The Department of Justice has filed an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift a temporary restraining order by U.S. Federal Judge James Robart concerning President Trump’s executive order on immigration policy.

The EO, issued a week ago, banned travel to the US from seven Muslim-majority countries and suspending refugee entry to the US. The Washington state Attorney General filed suit in his state saying the travel ban was unconstitutional. Judge Robart, a Bush appointee, agreed.

Considering how quickly the Trump administration has been moving, I’m surprised it took almost 24 hours to file the appeal.

The Department of Homeland Security announced it had suspended all actions to implement the immigration order and would resume standard inspections of travelers as it did prior to the signing of the travel ban.

Podcast: Mixed Signals From Trump White House On LGBT Rights

In my latest podcast for The Randy Report, I recap the developing news story regarding the Trump administration’s announcement that President Obama’s executive order on LGBT workplace protections will remain in place – for now.

President Trump maintains that he is a friend of the LGBTQ community, but advocates are not quite sure of what’s to come.

The LGBT community has been on the lookout for some kind of announcement from the White House since Donald Trump won the presidential race last November. This week it looks like we finally got an answer.

Late Monday evening, the Trump White House announced Obama’s 2014 pro-LGBT executive order will continue to be enforced.

But a draft of an executive order that began circulating in Washington over the weekend called for allowing discrimination against LGBTs in the federal workforce and by federal contractors based on “religious freedoms.”

Listen in as I explore the concerns of those in the LGBTQ community and the positions of those who oppose these vital protections.

Poll: Majority Of Americans Disapprove Of Trump Executive Orders

From Gallup:

Between 36% and 42% of Americans approve of suspending the Syrian refugee program, temporarily halting entry into the U.S. for most people from seven Muslim-majority countries, and ordering the construction of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. These approval scores are slightly below Trump’s overall job approval rating of 43%.

Although there are some differences in approval of Trump’s orders, Americans’ reactions to them — and their overall evaluation of Trump as president at this point — are broadly similar. The executive orders receive majority disapproval, ranging from 55% who oppose the immigration restriction to 60% who oppose building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Fifty-two percent disapprove of Trump’s overall job performance.

White House: No Plans To Issue ‘Religious Freedom’ Executive Order “At This Time”

Dominic Holden, award-winning journalist for Buzzfeed, reports today that the White House has issued a statement regarding the newly leaked draft of a “religious freedom”/anti-LGBT executive order.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Deputy Press Secretary, had this reply when asked about the EO:

“We still have no plans to take any action on this topic at this time.”

Please note the last three words – “at this time.”