Despite caterwauling from conservative Christians and TERFs last week, Joe Biden’s executive order to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ people is supported by a vast majority of the country.
A recent Ipsos poll found that 83% of the country approve of Biden’s executive order to interpret federal bans on discrimination “because of sex” as already banning discrimination against LGBTQ people. Even 64% of self-identified Republicans supported the executive order.
That’s more than any other executive order from Biden that the poll asked about.
The poll found that 65% Americans support Biden’s orders to extend the DACA program for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors, 70% agree with his order for the U.S. to rejoin the World Health Organization, and even 55% of Americans support his order to stop the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
A separate poll conducted by Morning Consult asked about some of the other executive orders signed by Biden last week and found that more people supported each of them than opposed them. The two with the least support related to oil: the executive order that banned drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and another that revoked the Keystone XL pipeline’s permit.
The Morning Consult poll did not ask about the LGBTQ anti-discrimination executive order, and neither poll asked about Biden’s order ending Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, probably because it just happened this week.
Biden’s LGBTQ anti-discrimination executive order tells the heads of all executive agencies to “review all existing orders, regulations, guidance documents, policies, programs, or other agency actions” in order to ensure that they are interpreting bans on sex discrimination in federal law to also ban discrimination “prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”
The executive order cites the Supreme Court’s 2020 Bostock v. Clayton Co. decision, which found that the ban on job discrimination “because of sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also bans discrimination against LGBTQ people, since anti-LGBTQ discrimination is inherently based on sex.
But the order goes beyond Title VII and says that the same reasoning could apply to other federal anti-discrimination laws, like Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Fair Housing Act, and section 412 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The order could have far-reaching effects. Under the Obama administration, executive departments started using an interpretation of discrimination because of sex that included LGBTQ people based on legal arguments that were being accepted by federal courts.
But as soon as Trump came to power, his administration started to roll back these protections, based on the idea that discrimination against LGBTQ people has nothing to do with sex. This conservative legal doctrine was behind the Department of Education’s rollback of protections for transgender students, the Department of Health and Human Services’ rule changes that allowed doctors, medical professionals, and the recipients of federal grants for adoption and fostering services to claim a religious exemption to working with LGBTQ people; the Department of Housing and Urban Development moves to allow homeless shelters that get federal money to discriminate against transgender people; as well as other attacks on LGBTQ equality.