w/ UPDATE Equality news round-up: Trump administration signals change in legal approach to LGBT rights, and more
February 13, 2017
– In two different cases, the Trump administration and a federal government agency issued differing filings regarding cases involving LGBT rights. In Texas v. US, which involves the Obama administration’s guidelines that require discrimination based on sex to apply to gender identity, and in which a federal judge issued an injunction blocking the administration from using those guidance letters nationwide, the government has asked the appeals court to withdraw the government’s request for a stay – which had been filed during the Obama administration. The government now suggests that it’s in discussion with the states over how to proceed with the appeal. This could mean that the Trump administration won’t be defending the Obama administration’s guidance letters in the future, maybe even including the case currently before the Supreme Court in Gloucester County School Board v. GG. As of this writing, the new administration hasn’t filed anything in the Court as to its future actions in the case. This case is in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a second case, the EEOC, using the same guidance letters, challenged a funeral home’s firing of a transgender woman. The lower court ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) applied in the case, allowing the funeral home to cite religious beliefs as an excuse to fire the woman. The case is on appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the EEOC is still defending the guidance letters in its opening brief in that case.
UPDATE: Several LGBT organizations are urging Education Secretary Betsy Devos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to uphold protections for transgender people.
– At the end of last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to issue a stay of a temporary restraining order that is currently blocking most aspects of the Trump administration’s immigration executive order/Muslim ban nationwide. We are following this because of anti-immigration policies’ impacts on LGBT rights, and other minority groups.
– In the Huffington Post, Michelangelo Signorile suggests that Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, should be asked about LGBT topics. Meanwhile, Gorsuch has released his answers to his nomination questionnaire. In it, as is typical of nominees, he lists all of his past writings. There are two pieces that are specifically anti-LGBT. One is a 2005 piece in the Natinal Review which I won’t link here but which is widely available, in which he criticizes “liberals” for fighting for issues in the courts rather than in the legislature; he specifically picks on people arguing for same-sex marriage. Note that this was 2005, when only a couple of state courts had taken up the issue. In an earlier piece, from 1987, he mocked activists for protesting Coors because of their then-homophobic policies.
Thanks to Equality Case Files for the use of the filings from their site