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The LGBTQ community has made a number of strides toward achieving equal rights and protections in the past few decades. But major wins like the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide come largely due to the momentum supported by smaller, quieter wins.
That’s why backtracking on those seemingly minor successes can put the queer community on edge that major recessions in their rights could be around the corner.
One such rollback happened sometime after Sunday when former Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent apology to the LGBTQ community was erased from U.S. State Department’s website. Just two weeks ago, Kerry openly acknowledged and apologized for more than seven decades of anti-LGBT discrimination faced by applicants and employees of the State Department. Many in the LGBTQ community consider this apology a victory: Acknowledging the abuse of the past is one way of promising it will never happen again.
Now, it’s erasure, piggybacking on the deletion of the White House website’s LGBTQ rights page, signals there may be more to come.
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer shared that he is “unsure” whether President Donald Trump will undo former President Barack Obama’s executive order that protects federal contractors from discrimination based on sexual or gender identity.
“I don’t know on that one,” Spicer said. “I have to get back to you on that. I don’t that we’ve gotten that far in the list of executive orders, but I’d be glad to get back to you.”
According to Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade, when asked about Trump possibly rescinding executive actions on LGBT rights, Spicer said, “Again, it’s not—I just don’t know the answer. I’ll try to get back to you on that.”
While Spicer may simply not know the answer, even the possibility of a step back on LGBTQ rights has the queer community concerned.
Marissa Higgins is the editor of Green Matters. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Slate, Salon, NPR, and elsewhere.