One week after the Trump administration filed a Supreme Court brief arguing that people should be able to get fired based on their gender identity, the president’s team returned to file yet another brief — this time arguing that gay workers should be able to get fired simply because of their sexual orientation.
The administration’s brief on August 23 stated that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act “makes clear that it does not” cover workers on the basis of sexual orientation, while the brief filed the previous week stated that the law “does not bar discrimination because of transgender status.”
In the brief targeting gay workers, the administration stated that Congress “of course remains free to legislate in this area,” even as Republicans in both houses have overwhelmingly continued to reject LGBTQ rights bills. GOP lawmakers most recently mounted strong resistance to the Equality Act, which would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act and related federal laws to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. That bill passed the house but faces dim prospects in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The administration stated in the brief that unless Congress acts on LGBTQ discrimination, “this court shall enforce the statue as it is written.”
The Trump administration has mounted an increasingly aggressive assault on the rights of queer workers just weeks before the Supreme Court is slated to begin hearing arguments about whether LGBTQ employees are protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The president’s recent barrage of attacks on queer employees also included an August 14 proposed rule that would give federal contractors wide ability to use religion to justify discrimination against LGBTQ workers. That rule would effectively gut President Obama’s 2014 executive order implementing protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracting.
Trump’s proposed rule directly contradicts his own pledge in 2017 when he said the order would “remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.”
The president has strategically sought to eradicate LGBTQ rights even as he simultaneously distorts his own record by maintaining in public that he has “done very well” with the LGBTQ community, as he stated in a press gaggle on August 20.
Beyond the employment realm, the administration has sought to weaken queer rights on a number of fronts, including education, citizenship, and healthcare. Trump has banned transgender folks from the military, scaled back the State Department’s work on LGBTQ rights internationally, moved to strip Obamacare protections for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals, and provided adoption agencies with a special ability to turn away prospective same-sex parents.