In a final parting blow to American LGBTQI communities, President Donald Trump in the dying days of his Presidency has rolled back protections that in turn, will now allow government funded social service providers to discriminate against clients based on gender and sexual orientation.
In an example of how the new rule change will affect the treatment of LGBTQI communities, the original 45 CFR 75.300(d) required grant recipients to treat same-sex marriages as valid. The newly amended rule instead permits a change in treatment of same-sex marriages based on later Supreme Court rulings.
“Given the careful balancing of rights, obligations, and goals in the public-private partnerships in federal grant programs, the Department believes it appropriate to impose only those non-discrimination requirements required by the Constitution and federal statutes,” the rule states.
It’s a crushing blow to the work done by the Obama administration that required agencies to refrain from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity and recognise same-sex marriages as legally valid. However, according to the 86 page release published in the Federal Register last Tuesday, these are now deemed to violate the Religious Freedom Restorations Act.
In adopting the rules, HHS said in a statement, that they are “committed to the principle that every person must be treated with dignity and respect and afforded all of the protections of the Constitution and statutes enacted by Congress – and to fully enforcing such civil rights protections and requirements.”
One person who has been vocal in their opposition to the changes is Sasha Buchert, Senior Attorney for the LGBTQ civil rights group Lambda Legal who said, “Even as Trump administration officials abandon ship, HHS has announced yet another dangerous rule that invites discrimination against the very people federal grant programs are meant to help.”
This final blow has been a long time in the making for the Trump administration according to GLAAD. During his tenure Trump has attacked the LGBTQI community a total of 180 times, having rolled back protections for LGBTQI people in housing, citizenship, education, healthcare, employment and the military across his tumultuous time in office.
This rule will go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, though some are hopeful this won’t occur as President-elect Joe Biden, in his LGBTQ policy statement, has promised to reverse the HHS rule “and work to ensure that qualified families are not discriminated against based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, sex, marital status, disability, or religion and that child-welfare agencies put the interests of children first, including those who are LGBTQI.”
Similarly, United States Senator Ron Wyden a member of the Senate Finance Committee, has vowed to work with the incoming administration “to restore humanity to HHS.”
“From day one, the Trump administration has been determined to roll back essential protections for LGBTQ+ Americans, religious minorities and other vulnerable communities,” Wyden said. “It’s no surprise that in its last days the Trump administration has delivered a devastating blow to try and permanently greenlight taxpayer-funded discrimination and put the health and well-being of children and families across the nation at grave risk.”
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