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- 1 How You Can Resist
- 2 Recent Updates
- 3 Laws Proposed by Congress
- 4 Transgender Rights
- 5 Healthcare
- 6 Marriage Equality
- 7 Other Discrimination Issues
- 8 Weaknesses in Republicans' Plan
How You Can Resist
- Call your senator by dialing tel:844-6-RESIST and tell them to oppose the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) and to support LGBTQ+ equality.
- Find out when your Senators and US Representative are holding Upcoming Events/Opportunities. Show up and tell them to support LGBTQ+ equality.
- Find organizations looking for volunteers, organizations working in your state, and organizations offering information and online opportunities.
- Connect people who may need them to LGBTQ+ Crisis Resources.
Laws Proposed by Congress
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
- S. 411 would end profiling by law enforcement, including on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- H.R. 1447 or Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2017 would prohibit discrimination in housing based on sex or sexual orientation.
- HR 1957, also known as the Safe Schools Improvement Act, would require schools to adopt anti-bullying policies that specifically include LGBTQ+ students.
- S. 928/HR 2119, also known as the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, would outlaw conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ people.
- S. 954, also known as the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, would require universities and colleges to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- S. 1006/HR 2282, also known as the Equality Act, would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.-
- HR 2491/SB 1172 would require the State Department to ban foreigners who have committed significant abuse against LGBTQ+ people from entering the US and to document this abuse in the annual human rights report.-
- SB 1258 would improve data collection on the sexual orientation and gender identity of the victims of violence and improve the documentation and reporting of such acts.-
- HRes 419 would recognize LGBTQ+ rights as human rights protected by the Constitution and state that all Americans should be treated equality regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.-
Harmful bills that should be opposed:
- HR 1881/SB 811 would allow child services organization to discriminate against LGBTQ+ foster parents on religious grounds.-
- HRes 427 would authorize widespread discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.-
See also the State and Local Pages for state-by-state legislative tracking.
There are not many federal laws protecting transgender people from discrimination. However, recent court decisions have ruled that federal laws against discrimination based on “sex,” such as Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, do give transgender people some protection. Without federal laws, though, individual judges can reverse these decisions. This is why some states have begun to pass laws protecting transgender people, for example in schools. The states also handle many other rights that affect transgender people, like the ability to change their name and gender on their identity documents, or have their health care included in state Medicaid. See the State and Local Pages to see where your state stands on these issues.
Trump and his security advisors do not want to allow transgender soldiers to serve openly, and want to have the right to discharge people from the military because of their gender identity. Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis has criticized civilian leaders, saying that their "progressive agenda" could weaken the Army. If Mattis wanted, he could reverse the Pentagon's policy on transgender people by notifying Congress 30 days in advance. No legislation would be required. This would affect 1,320 to 6,630 soldiers (numbers are from a 2008 report).
- On June 30, 2017, the Pentagon decided to delay for six months the plan to allow transgender people to serve in the military. LGBTQ+ groups have criticized this decision.
- When Vice President Mike Pence was a congressman, he voted against repealing the ban on openly gay troops ("don't ask, don't tell"). Jeff Sessions did, too.
The Trump Administration withdrew an Obama-era guideline on nondiscrimination policies for transgender students. This guideline said that schools must treat transgender students the same way it treats other students with the same gender identity, and was based on Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972. Without this guideline, school boards can now require students to use bathrooms and changing rooms that correspond with their biological gender, rather than their gender identity. Students also might not be allowed to play on sports teams that correspond with their gender identity. School boards can still create their own protections for transgender students, and people and groups can appeal to federal courts if a transgender student's rights are violated.
The Supreme Court recently considered Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., the case of a transgender boy who wants to be able to use the boys’ bathroom at his Virginia high school. The school board had policy that required students to use the bathroom that corresponds with the sex that they were assigned at birth. On March 6, 2017, the Supreme Court decided to send the case back to the Virginia appeals court after the Trump Administration rescinded the Obama-era guidance advising schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom matching their gender identity. The 4th Circuit Court in Virginia will now look at the case again to decide whether Title IX, which bans discrimination in education, applies to transgender students.
The repeal or replacement of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) could have severe effects on transgender people. Section 1557 of the ACA prohibits health-care providers and insurers from discriminating based on gender. The Obama administration issued a rule based on this section banning discrimination against gender-nonconforming and transgender people. This included transition-related care and gender reassignment surgery. If the ACA is repealed, this protection would no longer exist. Since Secretary for Health and Human Services Tom Price usually opposes protections for transgender people, he probaby won't reinstate this protection.
- Before the ACA, “transsexualism” was considered to be a preexisting condition. If the AHCA is passed, transgender people's health care could become much more expensive.
See the Healthcare section below for more information.
LGBTQ+ people are affected by all the government's decisions about health care, but some decisions and issues impact the LGBTQ+ community in particular. One of these areas is the fight against HIV/AIDS. The disease affects everyone, but according to the Center for Disease Control, gay and bisexual men are more severely affected by HIV/AIDS than any other groups in the US. Transgender people, especially transgender women, are also more at risk than others. Discrimination and stigma can make it more difficult for LGBTQ+ people to get diagnosed and treated.
More information on healthcare can be found on the Manual's healthcare page.
American Health Care Act
On May 4, 2017, the House passed the American Health Care Act of 2017, which would repeal and replace the ACA (Obamacare). This bill is very controversial. The ACA provides access to key health care services for many people, and its repeal would disproportionately impact LGBTQ+ people.
- A 2014 poll found that LGBT Americans were more likely to report being uninsured. The percentage of uninsured LGBT adults decreased by 11% after the ACA was passed.
- The ACA includes essential health care for LGBTQ+ people and people with HIV/AIDS. It bans discrimination in healthcare treatment and access, and it encourages collecting data about sexual orientation and gender identity. (Having more information improves treatment and prevention). The ACA also encourages trainings to improve care fpr LGBT patients.
The AHCA could be very damaging to LGBTQ+ people.
- The AHCA would cut $839 billion from Medicaid over the next 10 years and would freeze the Medicaid extension in 2020. This would cause millions of people to lose their coverage.
- The ACA's Medicaid expansion was very important in the fight against HIV/AIDS: Medicaid became the single largest insurer of people with HIV/AIDS in the US. It covered more than 40% of people with HIV/AIDS in care, and made up 30% of all federal spending on HIV/AIDS care, not including prevention services. The repeal of the ACA and the elimination of the Medicaid expansion would mean that many HIV/AIDS patients would lose their coverage. Any interruption in care means that the epidemic could surge: when HIV-positive people are treated the risk of transmission is almost zero, but if treatment is interrupted the virus can be transmitted again.
- Medicaid is also the largest payer for behavioral health services, which means that cuts to Medicaid would decrease people's access to mental health services. LGBTQ+ people are nearly three times more likely to experience mental health conditions, so they would suffer even more if it was harder for them to access mental health care.
- The ACA also required states to provide 10 essential health benefits through Medicaid, including prescription drugs. The AHCA would end this requirement, so HIV/AIDS patients might be unable to get their medications. By limiting Medicaid, the AHCA might also make it harder for people to get tested for HIV or get PrEP, a drug that reduces the risk of getting HIV.
- The AHCA would allow annual and lifetime caps on coverage under certain conditions and for everyone on Medicaid after 2020. This means that patients with lifelong illnesses (such as HIV/AIDS) could lose their health care when they reach a certain spending limit.
- The AHCA would let states waive ACA protections against discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. This means states could let insurance companies charge more money to cover patients with pre-existing conditions, including HIV/AIDS, or put them in “high-risk pools,” which cost a lot more and provide less coverage.
Better Care Reconciliation Act
The Senate bill to repeal the ACA is very similar to the AHCA. It would also cut Medicaid and limit its spending. It would let states request waivers so they wouldn't have to provide the essential health benefits that the ACA made mandatory, so people with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage. It would also defund Planned Parenthood. Just like the House version, this bill would hurt the fight against HIV and make it much harder for LGBTQ+ people to get health care.
For more details on this bill, see the Healthcare page of the manual
The White House proposed its 2018 Budget on May 24, 2017. This budget probably won't be passed, but it shows the White House’s priorities. It would increase spending for the military and border security, but decrease spending on programs for the poor, including food stamps and disability benefits. It would also affect LGBTQ+ people:
- The fight against HIV/AIDS would severely suffer. The proposed budget would cut $59 million from the Ryan White program, which provides health care to people living with HIV/AIDS who cannot get health insurance. It is the third-largest source of federal money for HIV/AIDS care in the US, after Medicare and Medicaid. The budget would also cut Medicaid by $610 million in 2018 (which is in addition to the $880 billion cut that the AHCA would cause over the next 10 years).
- The budget would take federal funding away from many institutions that provide abortions, such asPlanned Parenthood. This would have a drastic impact on the LGBTQ+ community. Planned Parenthood is one of the largest providers of health care for trans people. Cutting Planned Parenthood's funding would make it much more difficult for trans people to get health care.. Federal funding makes up about 40% of Planned Parenthood’s overall budget. Most of this reimburses Planned Parenthood for treating Medicaid patients.
- The spending agreement that Congress passed in April 2017 continued funding for Planned Parenthood,.
- The budget would cut a lot of money from scientific and medical research, including a $5.8 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a 11% cut ($776 million) for the National Science Foundation. The Fogarty International Center, which trains scientists in HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis research, would be eliminated. The budget would also cut the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative. These cuts would severely affect HIV/AIDS research. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would lose $186 million for programs fighting HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections. The CDC is the main source of funding for HIV prevention, and that would be deeply cut under this budget.
- The Administration had proposed cutting funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2017, but the 2017 spending agreement that Congress passed in May gave the NIH a $2 billion increase in funding instead.
HIV Criminalization Laws
Some states have passed HIV/AIDS criminalization laws that make it illegal for an HIV-positive person to expose another person to HIV on purpose. In some states, it is illegal not to tell a sex partner that you are HIV-positive. Some laws also allow the saliva or blood of an HIV-positive person to be classified in court as a “deadly weapon.” Because these laws are about disclosing HIV-positive status, not about actually giving someone HIV, they have no purpose. All states have other laws that can be used to prosecute transmitting HIV, so these laws just single out HIV-positive people and reinforce the image of them as “dangerous.” HIV criminalization laws disproportionately target people of color, mainly African Americans, and gay men.
See the State and Local Pages to see if your state has such laws.
The 2015 Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges gave same-sex couples all across the US the right to marry. But there is still no federal law, so the Supreme Court could reverse the decision. Some states are also trying to take away the right to marriage equality. See the State and Local Pages for information on your state.
The Supreme Court's new justice is Neil Gorsuch. He will probably generally agree with the conservatives on the bench and oppose Obergefell v. Hodges. On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot discriminate against same-sex couples when determining who can be listed on a child's birth certificate. Gorsuch did not agree with this decision. If any other Supreme Court justices leave the Court and Trump is able to appoint new justices, the Court might end up with a conservative majority and could reverse Obergefell if a marriage-equality case came to the Court again. Obergefell was a narrow decision, 5–4, so if another conservative judge was appointed to the Court and another marriage-equality case came to the Court, they could reverse marriage equality.
- The Texas Supreme Court ruled that state workers have no right to get benefits for their same-sex spouses. The Supreme Court might end up hearing the case.
Other Discrimination Issues
Federal laws do not prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, so state laws and court decisions are able to limit LGBTQ+ people's rights.
- Vice President Mike Pence and members of Trump's cabinet, including Steven Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Tom Price and Betsy De Vos, have supported policies that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.
- Heather Wilson, the nominee for Secretary of the Air Force, has opposed laws that would protect LGBTQ+ people.. Roger Severino, the head of the Department of Health and Human Services's Office of Civil Rights, is a leading anti-LGBTQ+ activist.
- Trump has advocated for policies that would directly affect the LGBTQ+ community. This includes canceling some of Obama's executive orders. For example, On March 28, 2017, he signed an executive order undoing Obama's 2014 order that required companies doing business with the federal government to provide their records on discrimination. The order required companies that received large federal contracts to show they had followed federal laws that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for at least three years. Only 19 states have similar laws.
The Circuit Courts of Appeals review rulings made by other courts in their districts and are the final word on most cases in the US. Only the US Supreme Court is above them. When laws passed by the states are blocked by lawsuits, the cases then go to the Circuit Courts. Their rulings are very important to protecting LGBTQ+ people against discrimination.
- In 2017 the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case of EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes. The case is between a funeral home and its former funeral director, who was fired allegedly because she is transgender. The Court will consider whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, also protects transgender people. The ruling could set an important precedent, expanding protections for LGBTQ+ people across the country.
- In 2017 the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals also revived the case against Kim Davis, a Kentucky clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses even after the Supreme Court legalized it. A couple she refused a license to is seeking damages, and the Court ruled that they can sue even if they finally obtained a license. The case has been sent back to the relevant District Judge in Kentucky.
- On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of a Colorado baker who was sued for discrimination because he wouldn't bake a cake for a same-sex wedding because of his religious beliefs. The Supreme Court decision could settle whether businesses can use the First Amendment to refuse service to same-sex couples.
- On March 10, 2017 a panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, does not extend to sexual orientation. This ruling contradicts many other previous (and following) decisions on the topic, and the case will be appealed to the US Supreme Court.
- On April 4, 2017, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, does extend to sexual orientation. The Court was looking at the case of Kimberly Hively, an instructor at Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend, Indiana, who was fired because she is a lesbian. The 7th Circuit is the highest Federal Court ever to protect LGBTQ+ people under Title VII.
- On May 1, 2017, the US Supreme Court held up a ruling stating that California's law prohibiting conversion therapy for minors is constitutional and does not limit religious freedom. This law prohibits mental health counselors licensed by the state from offering "therapy" to change sexual orientation in minors. This ruling could encourage other states to adopt similar laws.
- On May 30, 2017, a panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling allowing a transgender boy to use the boys's bathroom at this school. The court agreed with his claim that he is protected by Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendment, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. They also said that his school is wrong in not letting him use the bathroom matching his gender identity, because there is no "exceedingly persuasive" reason to do so.
- On June 22, 2017, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals Court in Mississippi ruled that HB 1523 can remain law. The law says that the government cannot take action against a religious organization that is acting according to its religious beliefs. The law might also allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. The law was widely criticized for being harmful to LGBTQ+ rights, and it was blocked by Mississippi state courts. The governor sued to have it reinstated. The court did reinstate it, but on technical grounds.
- On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot discriminate against same-sex couples when determining who is listed on a child's birth certificate. This overturns a previous ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court and strengthens the 2015 decision hat same-sex couples are entitled to marriage on the same terms as other couples.
- On June 28, 2017, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a North Carolina law that allows civil magistrates to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
Religious freedom laws protect people's right to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right. They are meant to protect religious minorities. However, they have recently been used to say that people's or businesses' rights may be violated if they are not allowed to deny service to LGBTQ+ people.
- Executive Order
On May 4, 2017, Trump signed an [Executive Actions | executive order] to protect religious freedom, which many feared would include discriminatory provisions. However, the actual order is widely seen as not having any concrete effects. It calls for a review of religious-based exceptions, including in healthcare, but does not make any changes for now. The order does not give exemptions to those opposed to marriage equality or LGBTQ+ equality. The order also asks the attorney general to issue guidelines for federal agencies that "interpret religious liberty protections in Federal law," so discrimination against LGBTQ+ people on religious grounds could still increase later. The order could eventually allow discrimination in access to spousal benefits or health care.
- Supreme Court
In June 2017, the Supreme Court decided to hear arguments in a case involving LGBTQ+ rights and religious freedom. The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, involves a bakery that refused (for religious reasons) to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The couple then sued for discrimination, and the case could settle the question of whether religious rights can be used as a justification to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.
- First Amendment Defense Act
Trump has said that he will sign into law the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) if Congress passes it. Congress first introduced it in 2015. The law would prohibit any kind of action against any corporation, organization or person if they acted according to the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sex should be limited to such a marriage. This act could legalize discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in many situations, including access to medical care and spouse benefits, and prevents the Federal government from fighting this discrimination. For an example, an adoption agency would be allowed to refuse to place kids with LGBTQ+ parents and would still be entitled to government/taxpayer funding. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a sponsor of FADA when he was a senator. When Vice President Mike Pence was the governor of Indiana, he signed a Religious Freedom Amendment allowing people to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. A similar amendment was attached to a 2016 defense authorization act, but it was removed because President Obama promised to veto. Under President Trump, such an amendment or law could be passed.
- Similar laws have been introduced or are being considered in various states. See the State and Local Pages to see if your state has one.
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) has eliminated questions about LGBTQ+ people from two annual surveys that evaluate the performance of federal services, the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants and the Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living. Without this data, it will be hard to tell whether the programs included in these surveys meet the needs of all their recipients, including LGBTQ+ people. On April 27, 2017, 19 senators from both sides of the aisle sent a letter to the HSS to ask for the questions to be restored, and two weeks later 49 House members asked the HHS to restore the questions in the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants.
- The Census Bureau will not include questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in its 2020 census. This means it will not provide lawmakers with completely accurate data on their constituents, which is necessary for lawmakers to meet constituents' needs.
The White House's proposed budget would cut civil rights offices in various departments across the government, including at the Justice, Health and Education Departments. It would also eliminate 249 full-time positions at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces federal laws against discrimination. It also decreases the powers of the agency that enforces the executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBTQ+ employees.
Weaknesses in Republicans' Plan
- FADA would require 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a Democratic filibuster. Democrats can block it from passing if enough of them oppose the law.
- The fight against HIV has in the past been supported by both Republicans and Democrats, and many members of Congress have criticized Trump's 2018 proposed budget. Trump's proposed budget probably won't be passed, and funding for HIV probably won't be affected as much as it would under that proposal.
- A survey by a nonpartisan research group found that 61% of Americans oppose allowing businesses to refuse to serve LGBTQ+ people and that not a single major US religious group is in favor of it.
- Laws that go against Supreme Court rulings, such as the failed North Carolina attempt to ban same-sex marriage and the current Texas challenge to the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, will probably not be passed.
- States and local councils can pass laws when they find that federal laws are lacking. The city of Jackson, Michigan, passed a law protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination. Many other states and cities have passed similar laws. See the State and Local Pages to see where your state stands on antidiscrimination laws.
- Popular opinion tends to shift towards acceptance, and researchers are starting to see positive impacts of equal rights. A study showed that allowing trans kids to transition is very beneficial for their mental health. Trans kids who transitioned were no different from their peers or siblings in terms of development and self-reported depression or anxiety. Another study found that when states adopt marriage equality, suicide rates among teenagers and young adults (especially LGBTQ+ youth) decrease significantly.