By: Alex Ross
The current Administration is so scared of Queer folks like me that they’re ready to strip our rights and set us back fifty years. With this administration, we’re playing by a whole new set of rules. The Trump administration has launched vicious attacks on the LGBTQ community and our right to economic security. These actions are not only disheartening, but damaging to the fundamental protections that keep Queer people safe from discrimination.
The assault began on July 26th when Trump tweeted, “United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” His tweets led to confusion across the Administration and especially between the Joint Chiefs, the people actually responsible for making these decisions.
It should come as no surprise that a President who ran on a platform of bigotry would try to push a policy that would strip patriotic Americans of their right to serve. Some critics claim that the tweets were actually part of a deal to quell far-right Republicans in order to ensure money for his infamous border wall.
Recently, LGBTQ news sources reported that the White House issued an internal document entitled “A Guidance Policy for Open Transgender Service Phase Out.” Trump’s transphobic rhetoric has set in motion the process of stripping U.S citizens of rights they’ve fought hard to protect.
The Trump administration cites healthcare costs for transgender service members as the reason for the ban. However, the facts show the difference in cost between some 15,000 active transgender troops and their cisgender counterparts is negligible. This attack is no more than an attempt to side step the key decision makers in our armed forces and use patriotic Trans Americans as bargaining chips to fulfill xenophobic campaign promises.
The second assault on LGBT rights came the same day on July 26th when the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an amicus brief in a case in which a skydiving instructor, Donald Zarda, claims he was fired after disclosing his sexual orientation to a customer. The case brings into question whether or not the Civil Rights Act of 1964 offers protection based on sexual orientation. The DOJ posits that the law has been interpreted so that “discrimination based on sexual orientation does not fall within Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination.” However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the group actually responsible for hearing complaints of employment discrimination, interprets that Title VII does in fact encompass anti-gay discrimination.
It is clear that there is a major disconnect between the White House and the rest of the federal government. Even Congress, which has never moved to include more explicit language protecting LGBT people in the legislation, largely agrees that Title VII does in fact prohibit anti-gay discrimination.
By filing this brief, this administration is sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong. The United States was neither plaintiff nor defendant in this case. The DOJ simply chose to make a petty and mean point that the federal government no longer supports employment protections for LGBTQ communities.
This endangers Queer folks across the country by putting their livelihoods at stake. If I as a gay man cannot feel secure in my career, then it becomes incredibly difficult to build and plan for the future. Seeing my rights put up for debate as if they were a matter of semantics is not only abhorrent, but a gross failure of our government to justly represent all of its people.
Our voices matter. Engaging in politics can be exhausting, trust me, I know. But it is important, now more than ever, to take action. The rights of Queer people and People of Color are on the chopping block. We’ve made some progress, but now we risk turning back the clock farther than ever before. It’s time for politicians to stop playing with people’s lives and start protecting them.