What would an LGBT Discrimination Executive Order Mean

Executive Order Under Consideration by Trump Administration Would Allow Discrimination Against LGBT People

fadaPresident Trump is considering issuing an executive order that provides sweeping protections for employers and service providers that discriminate against LGBT people.  The draft of the executive order circulated on February 1, 2017, would prohibit the federal government from withholding grants, contracts, or federal benefits from entities that discriminate against LGBT employees or beneficiaries based on religious objection—a belief that being LGBT is immoral or inconsistent with religious doctrine.

Such an executive order could potentially impact thousands of same-sex couples seeking to adopt or foster children, tens of thousands of LGBT youth in foster care, and hundreds of thousands of LGBT workers employed by federal contractors and the federal government.

Same-Sex Couples Seeking to Adopt or Foster Children

The draft executive order would allow federally-funded religious organizations providing child welfare services to decline adoption and foster services to same-sex couples.  Williams Institute research shows that many same-sex couples adopt and foster children, and are more likely to do so than different-sex couples.

Same-sex couples are four times more likely to be raising adopted children, and six times more likely to be raising foster children, than different-sex couples in the U.S. An estimated 22,000 adopted children are being raised by 16,000 same-sex couples, and an estimated 3,400 children are being fostered by same-sex couples.

The draft executive order could limit opportunities for family formation among same-sex couples, and leave many children without a foster placement or permanent home.

LGBT Youth in Foster Care

The draft executive order would allow religious organizations providing child welfare services to decline to serve LGBT youth.  Williams Institute research finds that LGBT youth are greatly over-represented in the foster system. For example, in Los Angeles, LGBT youth make up 20 percent of the youth population in care, compared to only 8 percent of the general youth population.

LGBT Federal Employees and LGBT Employees of Federal Contractors

The draft order would open the door for harassment and discrimination against LGBT people who work for the federal government.  An estimated 64,000 LGBT people are federal civil service employees.

Federal Contractors employ over 20 percent of the U.S. workforce – 28 million people.  Under an executive order issued by former President Obama in 2014, federal contractors are prohibited from discriminating against their employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  President Trump’s draft order would limit the scope of the 2014 order, allowing contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees based on their religious beliefs without losing their contracts.

The draft order would potentially strip an important source of legal protections for many LGBT workers of federal contractors, including workers who are not otherwise protected from discrimination under state non-discrimination laws or corporate policies.

The Williams Institute estimated that as a result of the 2014 executive order, 11 million workers, including 400,000 LGBT employees, gained protections from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.  These 11 million employees did not have protections from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination under a corporate policy or state law before the 2014 order was issued.

Services Provided to Same-Sex Couples and Access to Health Care

The draft order would open the door for denial of services and discrimination against same-sex couples, including over 500,000 married same-sex couples in the United States.  The draft order would also limit federal regulations that protect LGBT people from discrimination in health care, including in services provided by hospitals, insurers, and other entities.  There are over 10 million LGBT adults in the United States.   In particular, 1.4 million transgender adults would be vulnerable to discrimination in health care and denial of services under the draft order.

New Chairman and Lobbyist, Equality Alabama Looks to Build on 2013’s LGBT Milestones

When state lawmakers return to Montgomery on Jan. 14 for the 2014 legislative session, Equality Alabama is hoping to have a seat at the table and make heard the voices of Alabama’a LGBT community.

“Last year, we worked tirelessly to accomplish our goals and to … expand and energize equality, justice, and fairness,” said Ben Cooper, the Birmingham attorney recently named to serve as EA’s chairman of the board. “2013 clearly showed us that there is no limit to what we can accomplish together with continued support.”

To help accomplish its goals, the organization has hired Jeff Martin to serve as a lobbyist for the upcoming session.

“We felt now was the time to begin conversations with those who shape public policy in Alabama about issues affecting LGBTQ individuals in their everyday lives, such as marriage, family and health care rights. Jeff will give us a voice in Montgomery and help us bring about positive changes for those we serve,” a statement from the organization read.

Martin will focus on two specific pieces of legislation, Cooper said. 

One is a bill by Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, that would repeal an amendment to the state constitution that prohibits same sex marriage and another is a bill sponsored by Rep. Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden, that would allow health care providers to refuse to perform procedures that “violate their conscience.”

“Equality Alabama is particularly concerned about the inclusion of embryonic stem cell research in (Nordgren’s) bill. A great deal of research is being done with HIV and AIDS, and researchers are hopeful that through stem cell research will lead to a “cure” wherein a patient’s infected immune system can be replaced with new cells that cannot be infected,” spokesman Michael Hansen said.

Among the highest priorities for the year, Cooper said, are the passage of non-discrimination ordinances by Alabama cities. An ordinance creating a human rights commission was sent to a Birmingham city council committee in 2013 but no action has been taken.

“We’re working on getting feedback from the council and the city’s legal department so we can craft a plan. We have our eye on other cities across the state this year, but I don’t want to jump the gun on revealing which ones just yet,” Hansen said.

Joining Cooper are four new board members: Gary Bishop, Ashley Jackson, Erle Morring, and Lauren Banks. Other board members are Michael Hansen, Robert Hernandez, Juliann Losey, Steven Romeo, and Fergus Tuohy (past chair).

Other officers are Patrick Scarborough, vice-chair; West Honeycutt, secretary; and Jay Barrett, treasurer.

“We will move Alabama forward this year. We will continue to gain ground towards progress, working together to improve LGBTQ Alabamians everyday lives,” Cooper said.

And while 2013 was a watershed year for the LGBT movement nationally — six states passed marriage equality laws and The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act — Equality Alabama said it was also a great year for the LGBT rights movement in Alabama, too.

The organization recently released a list of memorable events in Alabama’s LGBT movement for the year. Here are some of those:

1. ‘Roll Pride, War Equal T-shirts designed to advance equal rights for LGBTQ Alabamians’

2. ‘Alabama teens petition Legislature to repeal anti-homosexuality language in sex ed law’

3. In Alabama-Mississippi ‘intolerance-off,’ The Daily Show tests reactions to a gay couple, gets surprising reaction

4. ‘Thousands Show Up To Support Marriage Equality’

5. Birmingham City Council committee endorses city-wide human rights commission

6. ‘Magic City Acceptance’: New project seeks to help Alabama’s LGBT youth

7. ‘Birmingham Mayor Bell Comes Out For Equality’

8. ‘College Republican Stands Up For The Freedom To Marry’