Students fear Trump’s LGBTQ policy

Students+fear+Trump%E2%80%99s+LGBTQ+policy

Associated Press

DeKALB — Students and faculty members had mixed reactions Feb. 5 when Vice President Mike Pence endorsed President Donald Trump’s vow to maintain LGBTQ-related executive orders.

Trump announced Jan. 31 that he would not undo former President Barack Obama’s executive orders on LGBTQ protection that Obama signed on July 21, 2014, ensuring LGBTQ protection for federal employees, according to archives on obamawhitehouse.gov.

“I think [Obama’s federal protections] were lacking but progressive,” said Iris Johnson, freshman electrical engineering major. “There wasn’t any specific protection put in place, but there was reinterpretation that was mandated, [which] effectively created protections.”

After Trump said he would uphold the order, Vice President Mike Pence said he supported Trump’s decision, according to a Feb. 6 Daily Mail article.

“I think throughout the campaign, President Trump made it clear that discrimination would have no place in our administration,” Pence said in a Feb. 5 ABC News interview. “He was the very first Republican nominee to mention the [LGBTQ] community at our Republican National Convention and was applauded for it, and I was there applauding with him.”

Throughout his political career, Pence has supported conversion therapy, according to a March 31, 2015, Business Insider article. He also voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, according to a July 15 Time article.

Despite Trump’s promise to not repeal the executive orders, some students are still skeptical of the Trump administration’s intentions. Alex Forgue, president of LGBTQ student organization Prism, said he thinks Trump only backed this order because it was a strong political move and because he was pressured by his children.

“I think [the Trump administration backed the order] because they knew that overturning this would not hold up in any federal court,” Forgue said. “Mike Pence especially has not been an ally to the [LGBTQ] community. The community needs to hold Trump accountable and be aware of what Trump will be doing next with the private sector where most people work.”

Although Trump has not signed a proposed executive order allowing businesses to discriminate against their employees and customers, many states have proposed their own similar bills, according to a Feb. 8 Washington Post article. Many religious organizations are pressuring Trump to sign an order allowing them the “religious liberty” to deny services to individuals based on their sexual orientation, according to a Feb. 7 Christianity Today article.

Amanda Littauer, women, gender and sexuality professor, said she is not convinced Trump is serious about protecting the LGBTQ community because he has only spoken in support of same-sex marriage. Littauer fears Trump will pass the contradictory Religious Liberty Bill.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is planning to reintroduce the bill, formerly known as the First Amendment Defense Act, allowing businesses to turn away LGBTQ customers, according to a Feb. 3 PBS article.

“It’s becoming clear that the reason why Trump didn’t overturn this executive order is because they are working on an executive order on religious liberty,” Littauer said.