The Trump administration is planning to make it easier for businesses that do work with the federal government to refuse opportunities to members of the LGBTQ community.
A new rule being proposed within the Department of Labor would allow any business that has contracts with the government to fire workers, or to make future hiring decisions, based on “religious” grounds, granting them the right to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals on those merits.
The rule would rescind a 2014 executive order by former President Barack Obama protecting LGBTQ employees working under employers with federal contracts, BuzzFeed News reported.
The rule is vague about how far a business would have to go in order to prove a religious exemption in firing or not hiring an LGBTQ worker.
“A religious purpose can be shown by articles of incorporation or other founding documents, but that is not the only type of evidence that can be used,” the rule state’s, according to ThinkProgress.
Today: DOL proposes to let contractors fire LGBTQ workers based on the employers’ religious views. https://t.co/CBC0QFMhiz
— The Leadership Conference (@civilrightsorg) August 14, 2019
Opponents to the rule change say it’s discriminatory and unfair to workers who are just as qualified as cisgender individuals. Some say it will likely be abused, too, as businesses may claim to have a religious rationale for firing a worker when in reality the owners may just be bigoted in their viewpoints.
“The problem isn’t so much that [contractors] will necessarily hold sincerely religious beliefs, but they will use this as an excuse for their homophobia and their transphobia,” Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan, senior counsel with National LGBTQ Task Force, said.
Twenty-six states presently have no laws at all protecting LGBTQ workers’ rights when it comes to hiring and firing decisions of businesses, according to Freedom For All Americans. Yet in states where those protections do not exist, businesses with federal contracts are barred from engaging in discriminatory practices, unless this rule becomes official.
Notably, during his campaign in 2016, President Donald Trump promised to be a proponent of LGBTQ rights, saying he would “protect” such citizens from “oppression” in his Republican National Convention nomination acceptance speech, the Washington Post previously reported.