Trump Administration Weaponizes Faith Against Transgender Workers
Last month, the Trump administration proposed a new plan to allow employers receiving federal contracts to discriminate against LGBTQ workers while claiming their religion forced them to. While disguising bigotry as faith is nothing new in American politics, the proposed regulation would allow federal contractors to apply for broad exemptions to civil rights law after engaging in discriminatory behavior, including firing or refusing to hire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It could also lead to federal contractors refusing to hire women or unmarried workers who are pregnant or parents, or even discrimination on the basis of race.
More than twice as many Americans work for a federal contractor than work for the federal government. If allowed to proceed, this rule would put the billions of dollars in taxpayer funds at risk for being used to discriminate against people because of who they are or who they love.
After the rule was proposed, nearly 70,000 people submitted comments on the proposal—including the National Center for Transgender Equality, which pointed out the vital role faith plays in the lives of many of the people who could be harmed by this rule:
Like many other Americans, NCTE values and advocates for the freedom of religion as protected by our Constitution and laws. Most LGBTQ Americans are people of faith, and 63% of transgender adults in the 2015 US Transgender Survey reported having a religious or spiritual identity. No one should be denied employment opportunities because of who they are, including because of their religion. In federal contracting, the government should pursue the complementary and fundamental goals of ensuring equal opportunity and ensuring that taxpayer dollars further the purposes for which they are allocated in a cost-effective manner. Narrow religious exemptions from these requirements should not be stretched beyond their plain text. In this case, the Proposed Rule would turn the hallowed value of religious freedom from a shield against government discrimination into a sword that can be used to harm others.