Society

Republican: Trump Gave 'Assurances' To Cut LGBT Rights

| by Robert Fowler

Republican Rep. Steve Russell of Oklahoma has asserted that the transition team for President-elect Donald Trump has given him assurances that the business mogul will peel back an executive order that forbids federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT on religious grounds.

On Dec. 2, an amendment that Russell had inserted into a federal defense-spending bill that would have created a religious exemption for federal contractors was excised by the House Armed Services Committee. The Oklahoma lawmaker remains confident that his proposal will ultimately be enacted.

"These issues will be resolved, and we have gotten some very good assurances moving forward," Russell told BuzzFeed. "I am certainly encouraged by the signs that I am getting from the administration that is inbound."

The Oklahoma lawmaker added that the Trump transition team had given him "very positive signals" that the incoming administration would provide a religious exemption for federal contractors.

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LGBT advocates have warned against the exemption, citing concerns that businesses that receive taxpayer funding could use a religious pretense to discriminate against workers and customers based on gender or sexual orientation.

In 2014, President Barack Obama signed an executive order forbidding federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people regardless of motivation. The executive order does not apply to private businesses, according to Pink News.

The order went into effect in April 2015. U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez stated that the order was designed to provide federal workplace protections for LGBT Americans.

"Because of this Executive Order, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people employed by federal contractors across the country will now receive new legal protections designed to ensure that they are judged by the quality of their work, not who they are or whom the love," Perez said.

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Trump could rescind the order during his very first day in office, along with other Obama executive orders that provide family-leave benefits to married same-sex spouses and a guidance to public schools on how to treat transgender students, New York Magazine reports.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who had helped strip Russell's amendment from the defense spending package, has signaled that he would not be opposed to the measure if it arrived during the upcoming Trump administration.

"As a general outlook, I think those religious-based organizations should be allowed to make decisions that are in keeping with their religious beliefs," McCain said.

Trump's approach to LGBT rights is currently ambiguous, with the business mogul having given contradictory statements on how he would treat issues such as same-sex marriage.

On Jan. 31, Trump stated that he would stack the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) with Justices that are keen on overturning the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

"If I'm elected, I would be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things," Trump told Fox News. "They have ruled on it. ... I disagree with the Supreme Court from the standpoint … it should be a states' rights issue."

On Nov. 13, shortly after winning the presidential election, Trump asserted that he viewed the SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage as a settled issue.

"It's law," Trump told CBS News' "60 Minutes."

"It was settled in the Supreme Court ... And, I'm fine with that."

Sources: BuzzFeed, "60 Minutes"Fox News via YouTube, New York Magazine, Pink News / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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