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A Trump Administration and LGBT+ Rights

December 22, 2016

Jay Hauser ’19 – Inside Politics Participant

Following Mr. Donald J. Trump’s upset victory in the electoral college, much of the political dialogue has revolved around the incoming administration’s expected courses of action and impact on minority rights. With LGBT+ rights, much of the legal framework for equality is still being created. A Trump administration will be a major hindrance to the creation of legal protections and social progress. Through his cabinet appointments, executive orders, role in the passing of legislation, and court appointments, President-elect Trump will most likely restrict LGBT+ rights.

Cabinet Appointments

Two cabinet departments come to mind as most involved with LGBT+ rights. The Justice Department is in charge of representing the federal government in a court of law. The Attorney General has a lot of say on whether or not an administration will take up the charge of defending the federal law in question. This gives the Justice Department a great deal of power in shaping the state of LGBT+ rights, as many civil rights issues are determined through the judicial system. Under Eric Holder (President Obama’s first Attorney General), the Justice Department decided to not defend the Defense of Marriage Act in the Supreme Court. President-elect Trump’s nominee, Senator Jeff Sessions, throughout his time in Congress, has consistently opposed LGBT+ rights measures. The Obama administration’s Department of Education, has been an advocate for the protection of LGBT+ students in school and on campuses through anti-bullying initiatives and the expansion of Title IX to apply to transgender students, allowing everyone to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable using. Betsy DeVos, President-elect Trump’s nominee to head up this department, has long donated to anti-LGBT+ organizations.

Executive Orders

The Obama administration has issued two significant executive orders on LGBT+ rights. The first extends protections from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to all federal contractors. This covers about 20% of the population. The second, issued through the Department of Education, stops public schools from preventing transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. This order was blocked by a lower court. Any chance of it being upheld relies on its continued defense by the White House. Considering Vice President-elect Pence’s stances on LGBT+ rights, specifically with regards to the bathroom rule, both of these executive will surely be rescinded.

Legislation

President-elect Trump has promised to sign the First Amendment Defense Act, which allows for discrimination across the entire United States of America. Pro-LGBT+ legislation, like the Equality Act, has no chance of getting signed into law, even with major changes in the make-up of the House and Senate. Finally, President-elect Trump has come out in favor of state laws that prevent transgender individuals from using the restroom that matches their gender identity.

Court Appointments

President-elect Trump has expressed opposition to marriage equality. President-elect Trump will appoint at least one Supreme Court Justice. No matter how many justices he appoints who oppose marriage equality, the ruling will most likely be upheld. If he appoints only one, the court will be ideologically set up in a similar way to Obergefell v. Hodges. If he appoints more than one, a recent decision like marriage equality will still be upheld as a part of stare decisis, a legal principle states that courts are to follow precedent whenever possible.

 

The views and opinions expressed are the students and the organizations whom they represent and do not necessarily represent the views of The Eisenhower Institute or Gettysburg College.

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