DemDaily: Defending National Pride

June 4, 2019

June is National Pride Month, which recognizes the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals have had on history and the world, and to raise political awareness of current issues facing the community.

Although the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in their landmark 2015 decision, the rights of LGBTQ citizens have since regressed under the Trump administration.

The NY Stonewall riots of 1969 started the Gay Revolution

The threat to the hard-fought legal protections for these Americans is real.

History
A turning point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States came on June 28,1969 with the Stonewall riots, a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid of Stonewall Inn, a gay establishment in Manhattan, New York.

The event set off public awareness of gay rights and fueled the development of state and national gay rights organizations nationwide.

Annual commemorations of the incident continued, but it was not until 2000 that the first President, Bill Clinton, officially declared June as "Gay & Lesbian Pride Month."

"I hope that in this new millennium we will continue to break down the walls of fear and prejudice and work to build a bridge to understanding and tolerance, until gays and lesbians are afforded the same rights and responsibilities as all Americans." --Proclamation by President Bill Clinton, June 2, 2000

Now known as LGBTQ Pride Month, the month-long celebration is recognized worldwide through parades, parties, concerts and forums, as well as memorials for those lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.

Although the White House was silent on the subject during the George W. Bush years (2001-2008), President Obama was a committed proponent for LGBTQ rights who recognized Pride Month annually during his 2009-2016 tenure.

"I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists." - President Obama

Gay Rights Under Trump
Despite Donald Trump's repeated campaign commitment to "to do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens," as President, Trump has rolled back countless Obama-era regulations that protected the community.

2017
February: After Trump was sworn in, links to LGBT rights were removed from the White House website and other government websites.
*Trump declined to appoint an LGBT White House liaison.
*The Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Education (DOE) withdrew landmark 2016 federal guidance for protection of transgender students in schools under the Title IX.

March: DOJ declined to appeal a nationwide preliminary court order temporarily halting enforcement of the Affordable Care Act's nondiscrimination protections for transgender people.
* The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) removed questions about LGBT identity on the 2020 Census, undermining the government's ability to address policies that serve LGBT people's health and safety.
* The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it would rescind two important agency policies designed to protect LGBT people experiencing homelessness.
* HHS announced that its national survey of older adults, and the services they need, would no longer collect information on LGBT participants.

April: DOJ and the Department of Labor (DOL) cancelled long-established quarterly conference calls with LGBT organizations.
* DOJ abandoned its historic lawsuit, which began under President Obama, challenging North Carolina's anti-transgender "bathroom bill" law.

May: HHS announced a plan to roll back regulations under the Affordable Care Act's nondiscrimination provisions to protect transgender people.
*Six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resigned, saying that Trump "simply does not care" about combating future infections.
* DOE withdrew its finding that an Ohio school district discriminated against a transgender girl.

July: Trump announced, via twitter, and without informing his Generals, that "the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."
September: DOJ filed a legal brief on behalf of the United States in the Supreme Court, arguing for a constitutional right for businesses to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and, implicitly, gender identity -- even though the federal government was not a party to the case.
October: DOJ released a memo instructing Department of Justice attorneys to take the legal position that federal law does not protect transgender workers from discrimination.
December: Staff at the Centers for Disease Control were instructed not to use the words "transgender," "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "fetus," "evidence-based," and "science-based" in official documents.

2018
January: HHS' Office of Civil Rights opened a "Conscience and Religious Freedom Division" to support health care providers who cite religious or moral reasons for denying treatment to transgender people, and those who need reproductive care.
February: DOE announced it will summarily dismiss complaints from transgender students involving exclusion from school facilities and other claims based solely on gender identity discrimination.

May: DOJ's Bureau of Prisons adopted a policy of housing transgender people in federal prison facilities that match their sex assigned at birth, rolling back existing protections.
June: DOJ announced the federal government would no longer recognize gang violence or domestic violence as grounds for asylum, endangering most LGBT asylum-seekers.

August: DOL issued a new directive to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to grant broad exemptions to contractors with religious-based objections to complying with nondiscrimination laws.
November: The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) erased critical guidance that helped federal agency managers understand how to support transgender federal workers and respect their rights.

(Tasos Katopodis/Getty)

2019
January: HHS Services' Office of Civil Rights granted an exemption to adoption and foster care agencies in South Carolina, allowing religiously-affiliated services to discriminate against LGBTQ caregivers.
April: The Department of Defense (DOD) put President Trump's ban on transgender service members into effect, putting current service members at risk of discharge if they come out or are found out to be transgender.

May: HHS published a final rule encouraging healthcare providers to deny care to patients based on religious beliefs.
* HUD announced a plan to allow homeless shelters that receive federal funding to deny entry to people for being transgender or gender nonconforming.
* HHS proposed a rule that would remove all recognition that federal law prohibits transgender patients from discrimination in health care.

*President Trump announced his opposition to the Equality Act (H.R. 5), federal legislation that would confirm and strengthen civil rights protections for LGBTQ Americans and others. The US House passed the bill May 17th, but it is stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Dozens of federal suits have been filed over the Trump administration's actions against LGBTQ rights, with varying success. Three are currently before the US Supreme Court.
In the interim, Trump has confirmed, or nominated over 125 federal judges who are hostile to civil rights, one-third of which are specifically hostile to LGBTQ rights.

Also this month, President Trump recognized National Pride Month for the first time since being elected. Now running for re-election, Trump has made a renewed pledge to protecting LGBTQ citizens.

His record speaks for itself. The threat is real. Vote.

DemList will keep you informed.

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Kimberly Scott
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Sources: Transequality.org, Library of Congress, BuzzFeed, New York Times

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