DemDaily: Pride of The People

June 30, 2020

This week marks the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the violent and spontaneous demonstrations in New York that are now credited with launching the gay liberation movement in our country.

Although this month's US Supreme Court ruling that federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender workers in the workplace is an historic advancement for LGBTQ rights, those hard-fought legal protections have been challenged by the Trump administration at every turn.

The NY Stonewall riots of 1969 started the Gay Revolution History (1969-2016)

History (1969-2016)
In the late 1960s, gay Americans faced an adversarial legal system where every state, with the exception of Illinois, criminalized homosexual acts, even between consenting adults in private homes.

The Stonewall "Uprising" or "Rebellion" came in response to a series of violent police raids that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.

Patrons of Stonewall, and other Village lesbian and gay bars, fought back, setting off a new public awareness of their plight, and fueling the development of state and national gay rights organizations.

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," now known as LGBTQ 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

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

While the US Supreme Court prevailed in legalizing same-sex marriage in its landmark 2015 decision, the 2017 election of President Donald Trump began an unprecedented era of suppression and roll-back of LGBTQ rights and protections.

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

LGBTQ Rights Under Trump (2017 to present)

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 Title IX.

March: 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.

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 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 DOJ attorneys to take the legal position that federal law does not protect transgender workers from discrimination.

(Plaid Zebra)

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 opened a "Conscience and Religious Freedom Division" to support health care providers who cite religious or moral reasons for denying treatment to transgender people.
February: DOE announced it will dismiss complaints from 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.

2019

(Tasos Katopodis/Getty)

January: HHS 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 found out to be transgender.

May: HHS published a final rule encouraging healthcare providers to deny care to patients based on religious beliefs, and proposed a rule that would remove all recognition that federal law prohibits transgender patients from discrimination in health care.

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.

July: HUD announced a rule to allow homeless shelters that receive federal funding to deny entry to people for being transgender or gender nonconforming.
* The Department of State (DOS) established a "Commission on Unalienable Rights" aimed at US human rights advocacy to fit with the "natural law" and "natural rights" views of social conservatives.
August: DOL announced a proposed rule to permit federal contractors to exempt themselves from equal employment opportunity requirements, allowing for them to impose "religious criteria" on employees that could include barring LGBTQ employees.
*  DOJ filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that federal law "does not prohibit discrimination against transgender persons based on their transgender status."

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

September: HHS cancelled a plan to explicitly prohibit hospitals from discriminating against LGBTQ patients as a requirement of Medicare and Medicaid funds.
November: DOE published final regulations permitting religious schools to ignore nondiscrimination standards set by accrediting agencies.
*  HHS announced it would not enforce, and planned to repeal, regulations prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and religion in all HHS grant programs.
*  DOL proposed exempting the TRICARE health care program for military dependents and retirees from requirements not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

2020
January: Nine federal agencies proposed rule changes that would eliminate the rights of citizens working with federally-funded faith-based providers to received written notice of their rights, to file a complaint, or to received assistance if the contractors objected based on religious grounds.
February: DOJ filed a court brief in the Western District of Kentucky, expressing the view of the United States that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is not "a sufficient government interest," allowing private businesses to opt out of complying with local nondiscrimination laws that otherwise protect services to LGBTQ people.

During his campaign, Trump said "I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens" (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

March: DOJ filed a court brief in opposition to a Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference policy that allows transgender athletes to play sports with their peers.
May: DOE published a final rule encouraging schools to dramatically weaken protections for student survivors of sexual violence and harassment, and issued a letter declaring that the federal Title IX rule requires schools to ban transgender students from participating in school sports. DOE threatened to withhold funding from Connecticut schools if they do not comply.
*  HHS published a final rule eliminating collection of sexual orientation data on foster youth and their guardians.

In June, during Pride Month, and in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, HHS announced it is rolling back civil rights protections for LGBTQ people when it comes to health care and health insurance.

Since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, his administration has rolled back or rescinded at least 31 measures put in place by the Obama administration to protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination.

We the people, for all the people, is in the hands of the people. Vote.

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Sources: Transequality.org, Library of Congress, Human Rights Campaign, CNN, New York Times, ProPublica

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