Donald Trump might not have campaigned on homophobia and transphobia, but his nomination and statements on policy have shown that the Trump Administration will be opposed to LGBT rights.
When trying to figure out what will happen in the next four years on LGBT issues, Trump’s statements are of little importance. LGBT rights have been mostly advanced through the courts and federal agencies, and Congress is needed to enact big-ticket items like anti-discrimination legislation. Republicans now control all of these levers of power, and Trump will govern like a standard Republican on these issues.
So here is what to expect in the next few years on LGBT issues.
The House and Senate are controlled by the GOP, but the Senate only has 52 Republicans. Unless Republicans are willing to get rid of the filibuster – the tool that they used so much when Barack Obama was president – they will not be able to pass legislation to restrict LGBT rights without unanimity from Republican senators and the help of eight Democratic senators.
So don’t expect much movement either way in Congress. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell won’t come back; it was repealed seven years ago with support from eight Republican senators. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act will not be repealed because it, too, passed with support from Republican Senators.
What is at risk are the LGBT protections in the Violence Against Women Act. The law was passed in 2013 after months of opposition from Republicans to many of the provisions in the bill, including part that bans discrimination against LGBT people in services provided by the Department of Justice. Republicans could repeal that part of the law, and it’s unlikely Trump would veto such a bill.
Don’t expect LGBT anti-discrimination legislation to advance. There is no federal statute prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations. The 2016 GOP platform opposes anti-discrimination legislation, and Republicans have made no attempts to pass such a law even though they have controlled the House since 2011 and the Senate since 2015, while GOP lawmakers have continued to speak out against LGBT rights.
Barack Obama issued an executive order in 2010 requiring hospitals that receive federal funds to allow certain rights to same-sex couples, including visitation and medical decision-making rights. Bill Clinton issued two executive orders that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in federal employment (the military excepted) and Obama issued an executive order banning such discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
Donald Trump has repeatedly said that he would overturn Obama’s executive orders when in office, but did not speak specifically about executive orders related to LGBT rights. While anti-discrimination executive orders survived the Bush Administration, Trump campaigned on overturning health care advances made during the Obama Administration.
Trump’s contradictory statements means that it’s hard to know exactly what he will do here, but he will be under pressure from the GOP to restrict LGBT rights.