Rumor in Trumpland: Is An Anti-LGBT Executive Order Targeting Gay Adoption Next?

In a little over a week as president, Donald Trump has penned executive orders targeting Muslims, Mexicans, and women’s health. According to rumors floating around the capital this week, the LGBTQ community might be next.

On Monday, Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin claimed he had heard from a reliable but unnamed source that Trump was considering signing an anti-LGBTQ executive order. Many feared the move by the White House would be extensive, targeting everything from adoption rights for LGBTQ parents to anti-discrimination protections.

Follow up: Admin source says LGBT EO could affect federal employee benefits & protections & adoption agencies that receive federal funding

— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) January 30, 2017

Later on Monday night, The Washington Post confirmed through “individuals familiar with deliberations” that a draft executive order related to LGBTQ issues did indeed exist. Many feared the measure would target a 2014 executive order issued by President Obama, which prohibited the federal government — and any business that contracts with the federal government — from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The groundbreaking move effectively provided anti-discrimination safeguards for roughly a fifth of the American workforce.

I'm told reliably there is a draft Executive order on LGBT issues including adoption. Details and timing unclear.

— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) January 30, 2017

As rumors reached a fever pitch Monday night, however, the White House released a statement promising to leave President Obama’s 2014 executive order intact. The statement went on to say that the president is “proud to have been the first ever G.O.P. nominee to mention the L.G.B.T.Q. community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.”

In a week dominated by chaos and fear for so many vulnerable groups, this seems a rare bit of good news. However, as the New York Times reports, Trump’s decision to keep Obama’s executive order does not preclude the new administration’s ability to target the LGBTQ community in other ways.

Trump may still seek to undermine LGBTQ protections, for example, under the banner of “religious freedom." Such measures have long been championed by Vice-President Mike Pence, who in 2015 while governor of Indiana signed a controversial bill into law allowing individuals and companies to refuse service to LGBTQ people on the grounds of religious belief.

Some LGBTQ advocates expect the White House to announce a “religious freedom” federal policy on Thursday, when Trump is expected to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast. Such a move might target prospective LGBTQ parents specifically by allowing adoption agencies that receive federal funding to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Trump, of course, can’t have it both ways. He can’t claim to be a friend of the LGBTQ community one minute while undermining us the next. We will see through any attempt to undermine LGBTQ parental rights in the name of “religious freedom,” and won’t let him do so without a fight.

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