Following President Donald Trump’s decision to preserve employment protections for LGBT federal workers and contractors originally put in place by an executive order from former president Barack Obama, one of New Jersey’s gay lawmakers is calling the move a distraction from the widespread anti-gay sentiment among his cabinet and prospective appointees.
General Assemblyman Tim Eustace said that Trump’s executive order barring refugees, immigrants and green card holders from certain Muslim countries stands in stark contrast to his decision not to take away Obama’s guarantee to LGBT federal employees that they will not be fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“While I appreciate the president’s decision to keep protections for LGBT federal workers intact, the mere refusal to take away basic rights from hard-working Americans is no cause for celebration,” he said. “Fear is justified in this moment, but we cannot allow it to paralyze us.
“Given the new administration’s unabashed disregard for the rights of other groups over the course of less than two weeks, it is critical that we all remain vigilant and hold the White House accountable for its actions. This president’s lack of compassion for men, women and children fleeing persecution at home and seeking peace in America is indicative of an inability to see people as human beings and not political chess pieces.”
Trump offered contradictory statements on his commitment to preserving advances in gay and transgender rights on the campaign trail, but Eustace cited his choices for the cabinet as evidence that other protections could be endangered under the Trump administration.
“We may not yet have a true political record on LGBT issues for President Trump, but if you can judge a man by the company he keeps, we have cause for concern. Vice President Mike Pence believes being gay is a choice and opposed repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Sen. Jeff Sessions, the president’s pick for attorney general, doesn’t believe members of the LGBT community face discrimination.”
Trump’s choice for the lat Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat on the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, has not written extensively on gay rights but did weigh in against what he characterized as judicial overreach during the marriage equality debate.