After speculation that President Donald Trump could issue an executive order affecting gay and transgender people, the White House announced on Tuesday that it would keep LGBTQ protections for federal workers, an order signed by President Barack Obama in 2014.
“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election. The president is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression,” a statement from the White House read.
Trump formally announces the extension of a 2014 Obama executive order that protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination pic.twitter.com/F2WDBNUzhX
— John Wagner (@WPJohnWagner) January 31, 2017
The executive order in question expanded sexual orientation-based nondiscrimination hiring practices to include gender identity, and required companies contracted by the federal government to enact policies banning discrimination of gay and transgender workers.
Trump’s latest announcement contradicts reports that the president was considering issuing an executive order to overturn Obama’s 2014 order. A draft of the potential order circulated in Washington over the weekend, according to the Washington Post. It included possible exemptions to allow adoption agencies and groups with federal funding to deny services to LGBTQ Americans according to their beliefs.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to comment on such an order during Monday’s press briefing.
“I’m not getting ahead of the executive orders that we may or may not issue. There is a lot of executive orders, a lot of things that the president has talked about and will continue to fulfill, but we have nothing on that front now,” Spicer said.
The backing of these protections is surprising for Trump given the track record of his stances on LGBTQ rights. In addition to his long-standing opposition of marriage equality, Trump also supports North Carolina’s HB2, which prohibits people from using bathrooms that don’t correspond with their gender assigned at birth.
Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence has a stronger history of anti-LGBTQ policy and rhetoric as governor of Indiana, notably for his initially-discriminatory religious freedom law, and his views on marriage equality and bathroom bills, which mirror Trump’s.
“Claiming ally status for not overturning the progress of your predecessor is a rather low bar…,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “Donald Trump has left the key question unanswered—will he commit to opposing any executive actions that allow government employees, taxpayer-funded organizations or even companies to discriminate?”