Barr criticizes LGBT curriculums without opt-outs

Attorney General William Barr expressed opposition to LGBT curriculums that do not provide opt-out provisions for those who oppose it on religious grounds. 

He also expressed his belief that religious schools should be allowed to turn away teachers who are in same-sex marriages in a speech on Friday at Notre Dame’s law school

“Many states are adopting curriculum that is incompatible with traditional Judeo-Christian principles. … They often do this without any opt-out provision for religious families,” Barr said.

He particularly cited laws in New Jersey, California and Illinois requiring an LGBT curriculum. 

“The Orange County Board of Education in California issued an opinion that ‘parents who disagree with the instructional material … may not excuse their children from this instruction,'” he said, lamenting that in some cases parents are not “warned” about the material. 

“For anyone who has a religious faith, the most important part of exercising that faith is teaching that religion to your children,” he said. “For the government to interfere in that process is a monstrous invasion of religious liberty.”

Barr also cited support for schools that do not hire teachers in an LGBT marriage, citing the example of a teacher who sued Indianapolis’s Catholic Archbishop.

“Right here in Indiana a teacher sued the Catholic Archbishop of Indianapolis for directing the Catholic schools within his diocese that they could not employ teachers in same-sex marriages,” he said. “This lawsuit clearly infringes on the First Amendment rights of the archdiocese by interfering both with its expressive association and with its church autonomy.”

[The Hill]

Trump administration files statement supporting a Catholic high school that fired a gay teacher

The Trump administration filed a “statement of interest” supporting an Indiana Catholic School being sued by a former teacher who was fired for being in a same-sex marriage.

Joshua Payne-Elliot filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in July alleging that it “illegally interfered with his contractual and employment relationship” with Cathedral High School after the school fired him in June. 

The Justice Department announced in a Friday news release that it filed the statement of interest in the case, alleging that “the First Amendment protects the right of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis to interpret and apply Catholic doctrine.”

“The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of religious institutions and people to decide what their beliefs are, to teach their faith, and to associate with others who share their faith,” Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband said in the news release. “The First Amendment rightly protects the free exercise of religion.” 

Archbishop Charles Thompson said in a letter sent to parents and students after the firing that “continued employment of a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage would result in our forfeiting our Catholic identity.”

It also called the choice to fire Payne-Elliot “agonizing” for school officials.

In the news release, the Justice Department said that “courts cannot second-guess how religious institutions interpret and apply their own religious laws.”

“The former teacher’s lawsuit attempts to penalize the Archdiocese for determining that schools within its diocese cannot employ teachers in public, same-sex marriages, and simultaneously identify as Catholic. Supreme Court precedent clearly holds that the First Amendment protects the Archdiocese’s right to this form of expressive association, and courts cannot interfere with that right,” the news release said. 

The lawsuit filed by Payne-Elliot stated, “For thirteen years, Mr. Payne-Elliott was a cherished educator of countless students at Cathedral High School. Cathedral renewed his annual teaching contract on May 21, 2019.” 

“But on June 23, 2019, Cathedral’s President told Mr. Payne-Elliott that the Archdiocese had ‘directed’ Cathedral to terminate him, and that Cathedral was following that directive,” the court filing reportedly continued.

Last month, the Trump administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not apply to sexual orientation.

[The Hill]

Mike Pence speaks at fundraiser for anti-LGBT hate group – a week after the White House denied he is homophobic

On Thursday, September 13, Pence was the headline speaker at the black tie gala for evangelical group Concerned Women of America, which lobbies against LGBT+ inclusion.

Anti-extremism watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center notes that the group has claimed that “gay marriage entices children to experiment with homosexuality”, and that “homosexuality carries enormous physical and mental health risks”.

The CWA has claimed: “Homosexual activists use same-sex ‘marriage’ as a political juggernaut to indoctrinate young children in schools to reject their parent’s values and to harass, sue and punish people who disagree.”

The $100-a-head gala was hosted at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, and was also addressed by Second Lady Karen Pence and anti-LGBT+ Republican Mike Huckabee.

Mike Pence hails ‘freedom to discriminate’ orders.

In his speech, Pence cited the Trump administration’s creation of “conscience rights” loopholes in discrimination protections, adding: “We’ve had two and a half years of action… and we’re just getting started.”

He said: “The source of our prosperity is that foundation of faith and ideals of the American people, things the CWA has been all about from the beginning. President Trump has been busy strengthening the constitutional foundation and the commitment to those ideals from day one.

“I promise you, this is an administration that will always defend the freedom of religion of every American.

“The president promised back in 2016 to defend your right to fully practice your religion as individuals, as business owners, and as academic institutions, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

CWA founder Beverly LaHaye said in a release: “This event is so special for me and for Concerned Women for America.

For CWA to continue to draw notable honoured guests like our vice president of the United States, Mike Pence, and his lovely wife, Karen, and governor Mike Huckabee – is an indication of God’s continued favour over Concerned Women for America these last 40 years.

“I am grateful for that favour and blessing; it has truly been the honour of my lifetime to lead CWA.”

Vice president has anti-LGBT+ record.

Pence’s three years as vice president have become defined by frequent spats over LGBT+ rights and criticism over his closeness to anti-gay hate groups.

A 2018 report alleged that Pence has played a pivotal role in actions taken by the Trump administration to dismantle civil rights protections for LGBT+ people.

White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere claimed earlier this month that Mike Pence isn’t “anti-gay” because he had lunch with gay Irish leader Leo Varadkar and his partner.

He tweeted: “For all of you who still think our VP is anti-gay, I point you to his and the Second Lady’s schedule tomorrow where they will join Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Dr. Matthew Barrett for lunch in Ireland.”

[Pink News]

Ken Klukowski, a Breitbart.com writer and anti-LGBTQ lawyer, joins Trump administration

Breitbart.com writer Ken Klukowski has joined the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. The right-wing pundit and lawyer has a history of pushing anti-LGBTQ commentary, including telling readers there’s a “homosexual agenda” moving forward in the courts and falsely claiming that research proves that same-sex parents are bad for children. 

Klukowski has worked for a variety of right-wing organizations, including Breitbart.com, the American Civil Rights Union, First Liberty Institute, Liberty University School of Law, and Family Research Council. As a lawyer, Klukowski has filed numerous briefs supporting right-wing causes. He joined the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as a special counsel in late August. OMB, which is under the direction of Mick Mulvaney, “oversees the performance of federal agencies, and administers the federal budget.” 

Klukowksi was previously the director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council. Family Research Council is an influential and extreme anti-LGBTQ group with high levels of access to the Trump-Pence administration. The organization has compared LGBTQ people to pedophiles and advocated for the discredited and harmful practice of conversion therapy. It also  states on its website: “Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed.” 

Klukowski is also an ally of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), another of the most influential anti-LGBTQ groups in the country. Sarah Posner wrote in The Nation that “Klukowski has said that he attended ADF legal trainings, and he also authored a rosy profile of the organization for Breitbart in 2012, in which he lauded its ‘massive and growing impact in courtrooms across America.’” He joins numerous other ADF-allied lawyers who have held government positions; Media Matters has identified more than 100 such allies who worked in Congress, federal agencies, state and federal courts, city and state governments, and local school boards in 2018. 

As a commentator, Klukowski frequently warned against LGBTQ equality, claiming, for instance, that “the entire homosexual agenda is moving forward in federal court, where judges are disregarding the will of the American people.” He’s also attacked same-sex parenting, falsely claiming that research shows that having “two parents – one man and one woman” gives children the best chance to succeed. 

Klukowski: “The entire homosexual agenda is moving forward in federal court, where judges are disregarding the will of the American people.” From a September 2010 op-ed in the Washington Examiner by Klukowski, h/t GLAAD:

The Perry and Log Cabin cases, taken with the recent Massachusetts federal decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (currently on appeal), paint a picture of astounding judicial activism.

The entire homosexual agenda is moving forward in federal court, where judges are disregarding the will of the American people, as expressed through the democratic process. Agenda-driven judges are doing this by declaring brand new constitutional rights not found anywhere in the words of the Constitution, mowing down every law that stands in their way.

Klukowski: “The fundamental institution of human civilization should be preserved as it has been known through the entirety of American history and Western civilization.” In an August 2010 op-ed he wrote for FoxNews.com with Family Research Center’s Kenneth Blackwell, Klukowski warned Republicans against accepting same-sex marriage, writing: 

The GOP platform could not be more explicit: Marriage is the union of one man and one woman. The fundamental institution of human civilization should be preserved as it has been known through the entirety of American history and Western civilization. Supporters of same-sex marriage had the full opportunity to make their case to the party. They made it, and they lost.

Klukowski falsely argued that same-sex parents won’t give “children the best chance to become happy and successful.” In a 2011 Daily Caller op-edwritten with Blackwell, Klukowski claimed that research proves that same-sex parents are inferior to opposite-sex parents. In reality, Cornell University’s Public Policy Research Portal wrotethat there’s “an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on over three decades of peer-reviewed research, that having a gay or lesbian parent does not harm children.” 

The data contradicts [MSNBC host Chris Matthews’] televised encyclical.

Children thrive best in a household with a father and a mother. Not just two individuals who call themselves “parents” — and if both adults are of the same gender, it is biologically impossible for them to both be the natural parents — but a father and a mother.

Men and women are equal, but not interchangeable. The research — as exemplified by our colleague Dr. Pat Fagan in his new report — show that the economics are compelling: While there are exceptions to every social norm, men and women tend to bring different strengths to raising children. Firmness and gentleness. Physical security and emotional security. Challenges and comfort. Discipline and nurturing.

Many families do not have the benefit of both parents. Often the reasons behind this reality rightly tug on our heartstrings. And millions of single parents deserve lavish praise for their magnificent work at raising wonderful children, with inspiring personal success stories.

But the ideal remains. Two parents — one man and one woman — raising their children in a loving and supportive marriage gives children the best chance to become happy and successful.

Klukowski: “The social science is clear that children thrive best not just in the two-parent home but in a home with a biological father and biological mother.” Klukowski also repeated his false claim about same-sex parenting during a February 23, 2012, appearance on Fox Business’ Stossel (via Nexis):

JOHN STOSSEL (HOST): If the state approves marriages between heterosexuals people, why not gays?

KEN KLUKOWSKI: Well, the states are softening in that regard and every chance that the states have had to speak in that regard where the voters of the states 30 of them have adopted — have adopted constitutional amendments —

STOSSEL: It’s not the tyranny of the majority just because we have majority rule. Why can’t —

KLUKOWSKI: In this regard, the states are sovereign and the social science is clear that children thrive best not just in the two-parent home but in a home with a biological father and biological mother. People fall short of that all time but government has a vested interest in promoting the ideal even if we all fall short of it to one extent or another. 

Klukowski criticized the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because “in the military you are often forced into quarters so close that they’re sometimes nothing short of intimate.” Klukowski wrote in his book Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservatism Can Save America of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: 

A fantastic example of a failure of leadership is President Obama calling on Congress to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law (DADT). Ever since the founding of the Republic, homosexuals have not been able to serve openly in the military. Setting aside religious beliefs, moral convictions, and natural law, this still makes sense, given that in the military you are often forced into quarters so close that they’re sometimes nothing short of intimate, with no privacy or personal space whatsoever in an extremely stressful, emotional, and adrenaline-filled environment. As a sop to the gay rights community, when Democrats had control of both Congress and the White House, President Bill Clinton softened this policy to say that it was still illegal for gays to serve in the military, but that no one could ask you about it so you were okay as long as you didn’t tell anyone or get caught doing anything.

The military is no place for social engineering. No doubt many homosexuals can be trusted not to make sexual advances, just as many heterosexuals can likewise be trusted in close quarters. But we don’t allow men and women to bunk together, or deploy them alone together in a forward position with no privacy, even though we trust them to remain professional and adhere to standards of conduct. Homosexuals should not get any special treatment denied to heterosexuals.

Klukowski: “The media is as much in the tank for gay marriage as it is for every other major part of President Barack Obama’s agenda.” From a July 2013 Breitbart.com column criticizing PolitiFact’s reporting: 

In case you just arrived from a different planet and didn’t yet know the media is as much in the tank for gay marriage as it is for every other major part of President Barack Obama’s agenda, you need only read Politifact’s recent post on Tony Perkins, where reporter Amy Sherman claims Perkins’s recent statements on how some wedding vendors are being forced to participate in same-sex marriages “under threat or even jail” are only “half true.”

In fact, Perkins’ claims are entirely true. For an organization that supposedly investigates facts (and incidentally is part of a solidly-liberal newspaper), to say Perkins’ claims are only half true is to post a story that is half fiction.  

[Media Matters]

Trump admin asks Supreme Court not to extend sex discrimination ban to sexual orientation

The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court not to extend a sex discrimination ban to include sexual orientation, arguing that the language for the law was not intended for that purpose. 

The Justice Department argues that the language in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prevents employment discrimination “because of sex,” does not apply to sexual orientation, in an amicus brief filed Friday. 

The Justice Department says the term “sex” is not otherwise defined in the law, arguing that it therefore means the “ordinary meaning of ‘sex’” which is refers to a person being “biologically male or female.”

“It does not include sexual orientation,” the department said in the brief. “Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, standing alone, does not satisfy that standard.”

The filing relates to the cases of Gerald Bostock, a man who claims he was fired by Clayton County, Ga., for being gay, and Donald Zarda, who claims he was fired as a skydiving instructor at Altitude Express, for being gay. 

Bostock’s case was dismissed by lower courts. 

Trump admin argues transgender workers aren’t protected by civil rights law in new Supreme Court filing

The Trump administration on Friday filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that federal civil rights laws do not protect transgender workers.

The filing relates to the case of Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman who was fired as the funeral director of R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. in Detroit after she told owner Thomas Rost that she planned to transition from male to female and would be representing herself as a woman while at work.

In March 2018, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the funeral home had violated Title VII anti-discrimination laws in the decision, with the court ruling that “discrimination on the basis of transgender and transitioning status is necessarily discrimination on the basis of sex” and therefore protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

However, in their court filing submitted Friday, Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco and Department of Justice attorneys argued that the specific Civil Rights Act provision “does not bar discrimination because of transgender status,” meaning the Michigan funeral home was within its right to fire Stephens.

“In 1964, the ordinary public meaning of ‘sex’ was biological sex. It did not encompass transgender status,” the brief reads. “In the particular context of Title VII — legislation originally designed to eliminate employment discrimination against racial and other minorities — it was especially clear that the prohibition on discrimination because of ‘sex’ referred to unequal treatment of men and women in the workplace.”

If the Supreme Court sides with the Trump administration, it would overturn the previous ruling by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, and mark a major blow to LGBT rights. 

The move comes hours after the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed President Trump‘s 2020 reelection bid, reversing its decision four years ago when the conservative LGBT organization declined to endorse then-candidate Trump in 2016.  

The group said Friday in its decision that Trump has helped advance LGBT rights through policies seeking to end the spread of HIV/AIDS as well as his push to get other countries to conform to modern human rights standards.

Trump has referred to himself as the “most pro-LGBT presidential nominee in the history of the Republican Party,” but has come under fire for his transgender military ban, which reversed the Obama-era policy of allowing transgender individuals to openly serve in the military.

The ban was formally upheld by the Supreme Court earlier this year after facing multiple legal challenges.

[The Hill]

Doctors Could Refuse to Treat People Based on Race and Age Under Trump’s New Rule

A new Trump administration proposal would change the civil rights rules dictating whether providers must care for patients who are transgender or have had an abortion. News stories have mainly focused on how the proposal might affect LGBTQ rights and abortion rights, but the sweeping proposal has implications for all Americans, because the Department of Health and Human Services seeks to change how far civil rights protections extend and how those protections are enforced.

Roger Severino, the director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, has been candid about his intentions to overturn an Obama-era rule that prohibited discrimination based on gender identity and termination of a pregnancy. In 2016, while at the conservative Heritage Foundation, he co-authored a paper arguing the restrictions threaten the independence of physicians to follow their religious or moral beliefs. Supporters of the approach say it protects the freedom of conscience, but opponents say it encourages discrimination.

His office unveiled the proposed rule on May 24, when many people were focused on the start of the long Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The rule is the latest Trump administration proposal to strip protections for transgender Americans, coming the same week another directive was proposed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that would allow homeless shelters to turn away people based on their gender identity.

The public was given 60 days to comment on the HHS proposal. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about it.

What would this proposal do?

Fundamentally, the proposed rule would overturn a previous rule that forbids health care providers who receive federal funding from discriminating against patients on the basis of their gender identity or whether they have terminated a pregnancy.

The Trump administration proposal would eliminate those protections, enabling providers to deny these groups care or insurance coverage without having to pay a fine or suffer other federal consequences.

That may mean refusing a transgender patient mental health care or gender-confirming surgery. But it may also mean denying patients care that has nothing to do with gender identity, such as a regular office visit for a bad cold or ongoing treatment for chronic conditions like diabetes.

“What it does, from a very practical point of view, is that it empowers bad actors to be bad actors,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told reporters.

The proposal would also eliminate protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity from several other health care regulations, like non-discrimination guidelines for the health care insurance marketplaces.

Does it affect only LGBTQ people?

The proposal goes beyond removing protections for the LGBTQ community and those who have had an abortion.

It appears to weaken other protections, such as those based on race or age, by limiting who must abide by the rules. The Trump proposal would scrap the Obama-era rule’s broad definition of which providers can be punished by federal health officials for discrimination, a complicated change critics have said could ease requirements for insurance companies, for instance, as well as the agency itself.

And the proposal erases many of the enforcement procedures outlined in the earlier rule, including its explicit ban on intimidation or retaliation. It also delegates to Severino, as the office’s director, full enforcement authority when it comes to things like opening investigations into complaints lodged under the non-discrimination rule.

Why did HHS decide to change the rule?

The Obama and Trump administrations have different opinions about whether a health care provider should be able to refuse service to patients because they are transgender or have had an abortion.

It all goes back to a section in the Affordable Care Act barring discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability or sex. President Barack Obama’s health officials said it is discrimination to treat someone differently based on gender identity or stereotypes.

It was the first time Americans who are transgender were protected from discrimination in health care.

But President Donald Trump’s health officials said that definition of sex discrimination misinterprets civil rights laws, particularly a religious freedom law used to shield providers who object to performing certain procedures, such as abortions, or treating certain patients because they conflict with their religious convictions.

“When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform,” Severino said in a statement. “The American people want vigorous protection of civil rights and faithfulness to the text of the laws passed by their representatives.”

Much of what the Office for Civil Rights has done under Severino’s leadership is to emphasize and strengthen so-called conscience protections for health care providers, many of which existed well before Trump was sworn in. Last year, Severino unveiled a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, and his office recently finalized another rule detailing those protections and their enforcement.

The office also said the proposed rule would save about $3.6 billion over five years. Most of that would come from eliminating requirements for providers to post notices about discrimination, as well as other measures that cater to those with disabilities and limited English proficiency.

The rule would also save providers money that might instead be spent handling grievances from those no longer protected.

The office “considers this a benefit of the rule,” said Katie Keith, co-founder of Out2Enroll, an organization that helps the LGBTQ community obtain health insurance. “Organizations will have lower labor costs and lower litigation costs because they will no longer have to process grievances or defend against lawsuits brought by transgender people.”

Why does this matter?

Research shows the LGBTQ community faces greater health challenges and higher rates of illness than other groups, making access to equitable treatment in health care all the more important.

Discrimination, from the misuse of pronouns to denials of care, is “commonplace” for transgender patients, according to a 2011 report by advocacy groups. The report found that 28 percent of the 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming people interviewed said they had experienced verbal harassment in a health care setting, while 19 percent said they had been refused care due to their gender identity.

The report said 28 percent had postponed seeking medical attention when they were sick or injured because of discrimination.

Critics fear the rule would muddy the waters, giving patients less clarity on what is and is not permissible and how to get help when they have been the victims of discrimination.

Jocelyn Samuels, the Obama administration official who oversaw the implementation of the Obama-era rule, said that for now, even though the Trump administration’s HHS will not pursue complaints against those providers, Americans still have the right to challenge this treatment in court. Multiple courts have said the prohibition on sex discrimination includes gender identity.

“The administration should be in the business of expanding access to health care and health coverage,” Samuels told reporters on a conference call after the rule’s release. “And my fear is that this rule does just the opposite.”

[VICE]

Trump admin tells U.S. embassies they can’t fly pride flag on flagpoles

The Trump administration is rejecting requests from U.S. embassies to fly the rainbow pride flag on embassy flagpoles during June, LGBTQ Pride Month, three American diplomats told NBC News.

The U.S. embassies in Israel, Germany, Brazil and Latvia are among those that have requested permission from Trump’s State Department to fly the pride flag on their flagpoles and have been denied, diplomats said.

Although the pride flag can and is being flown elsewhere on embassy grounds, including inside embassies and on exterior walls, the decision not to allow it on the official flagpole stands in contrast to President Donald Trump’s claim to be a leader in supporting LGBTQ rights overseas. Trump’s administration has announced a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality overseas and this month issued a tweet and formal statement to “celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made.”

The denials to U.S. embassies have come from the office of the State Department’s undersecretary for management, Brian Bulatao, a longtime associate of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who also worked for him at the CIA. Under State Department policy, embassies that want to fly the flag on their flagpoles are expected to obtain permission from Washington.

During the Obama administration, the government granted blanket permission to embassies overseas to fly the pride flag during June. This year, U.S. diplomats said, embassies were told they can display the pride flag in other places, including inside embassies, but that requests to fly it on the flagpole must be specifically approved. No approvals have been granted.

The denial to the U.S. Embassy in Berlin is particularly jarring because the ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, is spearheading an administration push to end the criminalization of homosexuality in roughly 70 countries that still outlaw it, as NBC News first reported in February. Grenell, the most senior openly gay person in Trump’s administration, has secured support for that campaign from both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

“The President’s recognition of Pride Month and his tweet encouraging our decriminalization campaign gives me even more pride to once again march in the Berlin Pride parade, hang a huge banner on the side of the Embassy recognizing our pride, host multiple events at the Embassy and the residence, and fly the gay pride flag,” Grenell said Friday in a statement to NBC News.

Asked specifically whether the embassy will fly the flag on its flagpole outside the building, just steps from the iconic Brandenburg Gate, embassy spokesman Joseph Giordono-Scholz said only: “The pride flag will be on as many places as it can at the Embassy.”

In Germany, pride celebrations continue into the month of July for a European LGBTQ event known as Christopher Street Day that occurs on different days in various parts of Europe.

Numerous embassies are displaying the pride flag this month in other ways, including the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, which put up a large rainbow banner on the side of the building. It’s unclear whether other embassies may be flying the flag on their flagpoles without having sought permission from Washington.

The State Department in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment, nor did the U.S. embassies in Jerusalem and Brasilia. The U.S. Embassy in Riga, Latvia, referred questions about the flag to the State Department.

The denials by Washington have alarmed U.S. diplomats serving around the world who are LGBTQ, with several raising the issue this week in a private group chat for members of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, known as GLIFAA, several of the group’s members told NBC News. The board of GLIFAA did not respond to a request for comment.

After the publication of this story, the advocacy group GLAAD, tweeted, “Remember last week when President Donald Trump was pretending to celebrate Pride Month?”

Trump’s public declarations of support for LGBTQ rights have been sharply criticized by rights groups who say his record since taking office tells a different story.

Earlier this month, a Trump administration rule took effect barring transgender people who have undergone a gender transition or been diagnosed with gender dysphoria from enlisting in the U.S. military. In the U.K. this week, Trump defended that policy by saying that transgender people “take massive amounts of drugs,” apparently referring to hormones.

His administration has also rolled back Obama administration rules designed to prevent health care discrimination against transgender people. And human rights groups have expressed concern that a new Commission on Unalienable Rights announced by the State Department this month to guide U.S. human rights policy, which emphasizes “our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights,” is designed to de-emphasize efforts to protect LGBTQ people and woman.

The news comes as pride celebrations are set to take place in Washington over the weekend, with WorldPride taking place in the U.S. for the first time this year, throughout June in New York.

[NBC News]

Trump administration bans CDC from saying ‘diversity,’ transgender,’ ‘fetus,’ and more

The Trump administration has banned seven words from the Centers for Disease Control’s upcoming budget documents, the Washington Post reports. The words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

CDC analysts were not given a reason for the banned words, they were simply informed of the new policy. Some phrases can be replaced or retooled, like by saying “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes” – an actual alternate phrase offered to CDC analysts in the first briefing about these words.

But not all the words are as easy to work around. It’s no secret that the current administration is anti-abortion and pushing back significantly in the fight for trans rights. Banning these words from CDC documentation directly affects communication around HIV/AIDS and the Zika virus, among others. 

This isn’t the first attempt to curb the use of language that threatens the Trump administration’s regressive policies. In March, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) removed questions about sexual orientation and gender identity from two surveys of elderly people. The department also archived a webpage containing resources for LGBTQ+ people and their families.

On a more fundamental level, this aligns directly with the Trump administration’s mistrust of words and facts, and its tendency to dismiss whichever words and facts conflict with the administration’s views and messaging. The inclusion of “diversity,” “entitlement,” and “vulnerable” in the new list reflects this directly; it erases the words from relevant discourse and by extension threatens to sweep larger problems under the rug. 

Matt Lloyd, an HHS spokesperson, said that the department “will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans. HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”

[Mashable]

Trump Administration to Make It Easier for Adoption Agencies to Reject Same-Sex Parents

The Trump administration is reportedly mulling two plans that would make it easier for adoption agencies to reject same-sex couples, senior administration officials told Axios. One option under consideration is to rescind entirely an Obama-era policy that prevented adoption and foster-care agencies from receiving federal funding if they refused to work with same-sex couples. The other would be to add an exemption for religious organizations. The discussion is “mainly about which approach would hold up better in court,” Axios reports. The change, which could be announced as early as July, is the latest Trump administration attempt to undo the previous administration’s policies. Religious organizations have consistently bristled at Obama’s adoption policy, arguing that they’re being forced to contradict their beliefs.

[The Daily Beast]

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