Trump’s Unraveling LGBTQ Protections Right Before Our Eyes

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If you’ve watched any news broadcast in the last week, the Trump headlines are clear. The investigation into this administration’s collusion with Russia is intensifying. The battle over Supreme Court justice nominee Neil Gorsuch is going to be a long one. First daughter Ivanka Trump is now an official employee of the White House. Yadda yadda yadda. While you were caught up in all that political theater, Trump was secretly dismantling the one federal law that protected you from discrimination. Didn’t hear about it? I’m not surprised.

Didn’t Trump say he wouldn’t repeal Obama’s executive order offering employment protection and equal rights to federal employees? He did say that. And technically, he still stands by his word. Let me explain.

For that executive order to stick, Obama had to sign a second order (the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order) forcing federally contracted businesses to show proof they complied with all federal laws and executive orders. It was a double protection of sorts—a guarantee that no company could weasel out of treating their LGBTQ workers like first class citizens. Trump revoked the second order—the one that forced their compliance.

So, officially, the first executive order is still on the books. If anyone’s asking, it’s still kind of illegal to discriminate against our community if you’re a federal contractor. However, no one’s going to force you to prove that your organization isn’t bigoted.

Compared to the ongoing drama with Russia, the glaring nepotism, and Congress showdowns, this executive order repeal didn’t rank high on the national importance scale. However, a failure to pay attention to these kinds of things could be the beginning of our community’s downward spiral.

 The Advocate published a powerful essay April 4, speculating that many federal employees are now sliding back into the closet to keep their jobs. Selisse Berry wrote that laws like these can lead to invisibility. Without knowing who the LGBTQ employees are, they won’t be included in vital research and will eventually offer lackluster performances in the workplace because they don’t feel valued.

Lambda Legal’s Camilla Taylor said, “It’s sending a message to these companies…that the federal government simply doesn’t care whether or not they violate the law.” Taylor spoke passionately in a comprehensive article by Keen News Service.

To be clear, this executive order only pertained to federal contractors with contracts worth more than $500,000. It didn’t apply to all federal contractors or any businesses outside of this scope. Concerning our rights and employment protections, they’re still a matter of states’ rights. LGBTQ rights are a legislative wild, wild west.

But this one order, this tiny victory for the community, was a big deal. Its repeal is a small step that can be heard loudly if we listen hard enough. It’s difficult to see through the smokescreen that this administration has up at all times but it’s necessary to do so. Whenever one of Trump’s tweets is trending or the mainstream media is focused on a single controversy, force yourself to dig deeper.

Start researching and reading to understand what’s happening. Nine times out of ten, there’s something else being repealed or signed into law. If we keep getting caught up in the BS, we could wake up one morning to a nation in which it’s legal to marginalize us. We never expected advancements under this administration. But we can’t afford to look away or write off the behavior as normal. “Oh, that’s just Trump” some of us seem to be saying.

If you’re not careful, one day, you’ll be saying “Oh, those were just our freedoms.”

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