With the nation poised to give Donald Trump the old heave-ho from the White House–one way or another–the Trump administration has issued a new, 11th-hour declaration stripping LGBTQ people of non-discrimination protections.
Reporter Dan Avery (formerly of Queerty) writes for NBC News that the Department of Health and Human Services issued a new rule on Tuesday that will allow for social service providers to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The rule will have far-reaching consequences, affecting anything from adoption services to housing services to elder care.
“Even as Trump administration officials abandon ship, HHS has announced yet another dangerous rule that invites discrimination against the very people federal grant programs are meant to help,” said Sasha Buchert, senior attorney for the LGBTQ civil rights group Lambda Legal.
The 77-page release issued by HHS does away with Obama-instituted rules, claiming that prohibiting discrimination based on sex, gender identity or sexual orientation violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The new rules go into effect on February 11, and will likely first disrupt child welfare organizations. The issue is significant, as the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, now before the Supreme Court, deals with the issue of whether private institutions can discriminate against LGBTQ people and still receive public funds.
With Joe Biden ready to step into the Oval Office later this month, the likelihood of a stay or reversal of the rule is high; Biden has made support of queer rights a cornerstone of his platform. Nevertheless, the move further cements Donald Trump’s place as the most anti-LGBTQ president in United States history. Trump campaigned on a platform to reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and ban marriage equality in 2020. While in office, he attempted to strip transgender people of the right to healthcare and ban them from serving in the military. He also took steps to hurt LGBTQ rights on an international scale, banned the Pride flag from flying at US Embassies, and appointed a number of ardent anti-gay judges to the bench, including to the Supreme Court.