President Donald Trump opposes the passage of the Equality Act, a proposed bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights law to prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.
In a statement shared with NBC News, a senior administration official confirmed the president's opposition, which was first reported by the Washington Blade.
“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all," the official stated. "However, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”
Democrats reintroduced the Equality Act in March, championing the bill as a necessary step to creating a national standard for LGBTQ nondiscrimination. Currently, the legal situation for the LGBTQ community changes dramatically at state borders.
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In the absence of a national law, at least 20 states have enacted LGBTQ discrimination protections. Residents of those states enjoy many of the Equality Act's protections, but those stop at state borders. An openly LGBTQ person driving from Colorado into Nebraska would find that their right to keep their job, to keep their home and to freely engage in commerce evaporates as soon as they cross the state line.
The Equality Act would nationalize the protections enjoyed by LGBTQ people in states such as California and Massachusetts and extend them across the country.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., a co-sponsor of the legislation and one of only two openly LGBTQ members of the U.S. Senate, expressed disappointment in the president's opposition to the bill.
“No American should be at risk of being fired, evicted from their home or denied services because of who they are or whom they love," Baldwin told NBC News. 'The bipartisan Equality Act will move our country forward and the Trump administration’s opposition to it highlights how important it is to take back the White House in 2020.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of the national LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, said Trump's opposition to the Equality Act "further cements his administration’s legacy of being the most anti-LGBTQ government in recent memory."
“LGBTQ Americans will not forget the President’s politically craven flip-flop on this fair and just legislation," Ellis said in a statement shared with NBC News.
In addition to Trump’s campaign promise to support the LGBTQ community, the "flip-flop" Ellis refers to is Trump’s on-record support for a very similar measure in 2000. That year, in an interview with LGBTQ magazine The Advocate, Trump said he liked "the idea of amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include a ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation."
"It would be simple. It would be straightforward," he said at the time. "Amending the Civil Rights Act would grant the same protection to gay people that we give to other Americans — it’s only fair."
However, since the legalization of same-sex marriage and the end of "don’t ask, don’t tell," many Republicans now publicly oppose the Equality Act not because it bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, but because of its provisions banning discrimination based on gender identity.
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