Justice Department reverses Trump anti-LGBTQ memo on high court ruling
The Justice Department under President Joe Biden has withdrawn a Trump anti-LGBTQ memo it previously sent limiting the expansion of LGBTQ rights under last year’s Supreme Court decision.
The 22-page memo– which took a limited view of the high court’s ruling on Bostock v. Clayton County– was released by Acting Assistant Attorney General John Daukas one day before then-President Donald Trump left office.
Trump anti-LGBTQ memo blocked by Justice Department
Greg Friel, who had been named acting head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said the memo conflicts with Biden’s first-day executive order against LGBTQ discrimination.
Friel wrote to civil division colleagues: “I have determined that this memorandum is inconsistent in many respects with the EO.”
“I plan to confer with Department leadership about issuing revised guidance that comports with the policy set forth in the EO,” he added.
Friel said that as part of that process, they will consult with Division subject matter experts on the issue.
The landmark Supreme Court decision, with justices voting 6-3, stated that the laws of the US on sex discrimination in the workplace also apply to discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
Trump anti-LGBTQ memo refutes high court ruling
The Trump administration had counseled against the interpretation of the Bostock v. Clayton County ruling that it could be applied to other laws and areas like education or housing.
Daukas wrote in the memo: “We must hesitate to apply the reasoning of Bostock to different texts, adopted at different times, in different contexts.”
He further said that “the Supreme Court has never held that a religious employer’s decision not to hire homosexual or transgender persons ‘violates deeply and widely accepted views of elementary justice’,” in the same memo.
In particular, the memo said the court’s ruling should not extend to areas with gender-based policies on bathrooms and sports teams. It also said discrimination could be justified based on religious beliefs.
David Cole, national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Wall Street Journal that the Trump administration is “looking for every possible way to narrow its implications” of the high court ruling.
Other last-minute action by Trump officials
Aside from the Justice Department, other officials of the Trump administration like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had also tried to pass last-minute actions that targeted the LGBTQ community.
Before she resigned, DeVos issued a memo that said the ruling is “is consistent with and further supports the department’s long-standing construction of the term ‘sex’’ in Title IX to mean biological sex, male or female.”
Likewise, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule that allows social-service providers that receive funds to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“The Trump administration will be remembered for many vile acts and among them will be its wave of policies enabling discrimination against LGBTQ people” said Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project.