Donald Trump extends Obama's LGBTQ workplace protections
Move comes as new U.S. president gets set to name Supreme Court nominee
U.S. President Donald Trump says he won't roll back workplace protections for LGBTQ individuals.
In a rare display of agreement with the previous administration, one of Trump's first actions on Tuesday was to pledge to continue an executive order signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, that ensures employees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer are entitled to the same protections as any other workers.
"The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact," said a White House statement.
The announcement comes just hours before the new president is set to announce his choice for the Supreme Court vacancy.
There's a movement among socially conservative forces in America to push back against hard-won rights for the LGBTQ community, and the president's move to firmly ensconce some of those rights could be an attempt to stay above the coming fray.
"President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community," the White House statement said. "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."
Some LGBTQ groups, however, are unconvinced. The Republican platform during the recent election campaign was described as "the most anti-LGBTQ" ever although Trump himself had little input on it.
Human Rights Campaign, an opponent of the Trump administration, said he "has left the key question unanswered," according to HRC president Chad Griffin.
"Will he commit to opposing any executive actions that allow government employees, taxpayer-funded organizations or even companies to discriminate?"
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has seen a wave of support following Trump's election, also expressed skepticism for the move.
"Actions speak louder than words," ACLU spokesman James Esseks said.
"President Trump has surrounded himself with a vice-president and cabinet members who have repeatedly sought to sanction discrimination against LGBT people in the name of religion, and nothing in the White House's statement makes clear that these efforts are behind us.
"LGBT immigrants, refugees, Muslims, and women have already come under attack by this administration. If Donald Trump is serious about being an ally to the LGBT community, it starts with abandoning an agenda driven by fear and prejudice."
With files from The Associated Press