More Legal Fights Ahead as Trump Administration Steps Up Erosion of LGBTQ Rights?

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday July 8, 2020

LGBT supporters wave their flag in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 8, 2019, in Washington, when the court heard arguments on LGBT rights cases. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press)
LGBT supporters wave their flag in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 8, 2019, in Washington, when the court heard arguments on LGBT rights cases. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press)  

From its first days, the Trump administration has attacked LGBTQ rights and visibility in a number of ways. But a recent Supreme Court decision could open the way for the legal challenges to fend off current and upcoming efforts by the White House and various federal agencies to cast aside, minimize, and exclude Americans who are not heterosexual or cisgender, notes Bloomberg Law.

Bloomberg Law reported that:

Several federal agencies, including Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments, have in recent years issued guidance and rulemaking that rolled back LGBT rights or bolstered religious liberties. Early indications show the high court's June 15 decision could have broad reach on other statutes, attorneys and academics say.

Even as the Trump administration finds itself re-litigating ongoing efforts to erase or shut out LGBTQ people, its planned implementation of rules that rescind protections from sexual minorities will face additional hurdles, the article foretold.

The article quoted UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute's Christy Mallory, who predicted:

"Some of the law isn't already established, but we expect to see a lot of cases challenging the rollback of gender identity protections."

Such challenges are already playing out, the article noted, referencing suits that push back against the government's attempts to allow medical personnel to refuse treatment to patients to whom they might object for "religious" or "moral" reasons.

But the court's finding, which affirmed that workplace non-discrimination extends to LGBTQ people, is no guarantee that LGBTQ rights can withstand the Trump administration's continued attacks. The article quoted lawyer Chris Wilkinson, who noted that "The government leaves alone the broader protection of the employment law but then chips away at it through religious exemption efforts."

And protections in the workplace and in medial settings are not the only areas in which LGBTQ rights, protections, and access have come under fire by the current administration. Virtually every aspect of life for LGBTQ people has been or is being targeted by the Trump administration — including the question, settled by the Supreme Court five years ago, of marriage equality. The recently-adopted GOP platform for this year's presidential election — which is the 2016 platform, simply re-adopted for use this year — targets marriage equality specifically, and urges the Supreme Court to snatch away from LGBTQ families, the platform reads:

"Our laws and our government's regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman ... We do not accept the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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