A spokesperson for the White House has said that Donald Trump opposes the Equality Act.
“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights,” a senior administration official told the Washington Blade.
The Equality Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other civil rights legislation as protected categories, effectively banning job, housing, credit, and other forms of discrimination against LGBTQ people at the federal level.
The White House spokesperson did not say what threats there were to “parental and conscience rights” in the bill.
The “conscience rights” may refer to how Republicans believe that many forms of discrimination are justified if the person discriminating says their religion made them do it.
Earlier this month, Trump announced new guidelines that would allow health care professionals to refuse to provide medical care if they have personal or religious objections to it, which Trump framed as “conscience rights.”
LGBTQ organizations denounced Trump’s opposition to the Equality Act.
“We’re disgusted, but certainly not surprised, by Donald Trump’s announcement that he opposes the Equality Act, which is supported by seven in ten Americans and more than two hundred major businesses,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
“By opposing this common sense civil rights legislation, Donald Trump is ensuring that LGBTQ people remain at risk of being fired or denied housing in a majority of states,” the ACLU said in a statement.
“Thankfully, most Americans disagree with President Trump and believe that our nation’s nondiscrimination laws should explicitly cover LGBTQ people, too.”
Trump’s views on the Equality Act have changed in the last several decades. In a 2000 interview with The Advocate, he said, “I like the idea of amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include a ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation. It would be simple. It would be straightforward.”
“We don’t need to rewrite the laws currently on the books, although I do think we need to address hate-crimes legislation. But amending the Civil Rights Act would grant the same protection to gay people that we give to other Americans — it’s only fair.”
House Democratic leadership is planning to hold a vote on the Equality Act this coming Friday. The bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate.